A friend was recruited for a junior role in a company. The company wanted a candidate fluent in Italian, with good accounting knowledge and banking experience. My friend had banking experience and was fluent in Italian but had no accounting knowledge- something which he explicitly stated at the interview, stressing that should he be hired he would need training in that area. The company made him take an accounting test and the results indeed revealed his lack of knowledge in that area- but the company decided to hire my friend nevertheless.
The company was unable to provide him with formal training in the first 3 months of his employment and therefore extended my friend’s probation period by 3 months. At this stage he received a formal review stating that he was failing to meet expectation in terms of “technical skills” and “productivity” (as he was struggling with the technical skills). In all other areas he was meeting expectations (client relationship etc). My friend disputed the claims explaining that as he had received no formal training the claims were unfair. Due to logistics problems the company was again unable to provide formal training in the next 3 months (although he received some ad-hoc training) and his probation period was again extended by 3 months. He again received a formal review were the same claims were made and he was set a deadline to deliver 4 reports before the end of the next probation period (as a measure of performance)- at this stage he raised the question whether perhaps a recruitment mistake had been made as expectations seemed unrealistic for a junior who had received no formal training. By that stage, my friend was working almost every week-end and staying very late in the office to try to improve his knowledge and deliver the reports. There were no “peers” to evaluate him against as no juniors, with no accounting knowledge, had been recruited outside of a graduate training programme before. He received training in his seventh month of employment and met the deadline he was set- but he received a letter today informing him that the outcome of the probation period was unsuccessful. A meeting will be held next week where he can bring a colleague or union representative.

He had told his manager that he was not looking for another job as it took time and he wanted to focus his attention on his current job as he wished for a successful outcome of the probation period. He will now be in a very difficult situation when looking for another job as the references will state dates which will reveal that something went wrong.

1. Does he have a case against the company.

2. Can he negotiate to be kept on the employee register unpaid so that when a new employer asks for references it will state “from July 06 to date”?
Melanie Lejeune

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