Initial Service Review - Managers' Guidance

1. Introduction

The University aims to welcome and support all new staff by creating a positive working environment.  The purpose of the Initial Service Review (ISR) is to introduce new staff to working at the University, to provide reasonable training and support to enable individuals to fulfil their potential. 

The ISR Policy (Ordinance 10, section 2 - Appendix A) sets out manager’s responsibilities for the day to day management of staff within their initial service review period (the “ISR Period”).  

The initial service review is covered by two documents: 

The aim of this guidance is to provide guidance on the implementation of both. 

2. Manager’s Responsibilities (see ISR Policy, points 1.3 - 1.6)

The aims of ISR are: 

Whilst it is possible to extend the ISR Period if concerns are identified late it is not in anyone’s interests to delay the opportunity to address issues identified earlier during an ISR Period. 

Managers are responsible for managing and supporting employees in accordance with the ISR Policy to allow the employee the opportunity to demonstrate that they can carry out the role effectively.  This includes:

  • setting out the expectations of the role;
  • providing continuing support so the individual has a clear understanding of what is expected of them;
  • discussing their role and expectations of their role as set out in their job description;
  • providing a comprehensive induction; providing reasonable training;
  • holding regular 1:1s and team meetings as appropriate. 

It will be important for managers to consider all the above matters and the suitability of the employee for the role throughout the ISR Period in order to inform the manager's decision regarding confirmation of employment. 

While there may be some issues around timing of the SR&D process in relation to new starters, it would normally be expected that new staff would participate in SR&D. The Initial Service Review (ISR) process and SR&D should be seen as complementary. ISR is obviously very important and will focus on early progress and performance in the role. In the first year, these discussions should sit alongside and complement SR&D discussions around objective setting, development needs, etc. It is very important to clarify expectations early on, and establishing and recording agreed objectives in the first year of an individual’s career here is an important part of this. These objectives can then be carried forward in MyReview to support a wider SR&D discussion in the following year, looking both backward and forward.

3. Support and Guidance

HR teams will provide support and guidance to all parties involved in the operation of the procedures prescribed in the ISR Policy (Ordinance 10, section 2 - Appendix A) and ISR Procedure (Ordinance 10, section 2). See Operating Principles (Ordinance 10 section 1.6). 

Trade Unions may advise their members on all aspects of both the policy and procedure, and may represent/accompany individuals at meetings (see Operating Principles - Ordinance 10, section 1.12).

4. Determining the Duration of the ISR Period (see the ISR Policy, point 2)

The usual ISR Period as set out in the employee’s Terms and Conditions of Employment is 6 months (Grades A-I) and 12 months (Grades J and above).  If a Manager considers that a different ISR Period is necessary, he or she should discuss this with HR before making an offer of employment. A different ISR Period may be appropriate where roles are annualised, linked to cyclical student cycles, term-time only etc., in order to allow Managers to assess initial suitability across the full range of activities associated with the role.

5. Initial Service Review Procedure (see the ISR Policy, point 2)

Under the ISR Policy the key aspect of the Manager’s role is to determine whether or not the employee is suitable or has the skills for and is performing appropriately in their role. 

In order to do these actions under the ISR Policy include regular 1:1 meetings and a formal review at the halfway stage of the ISR Period. The policy also makes provision for raising concerns about an employee at any time during the ISR Period. 

(a)  Reviewing progress during the ISR Period either at a 1:1 meeting or at the halfway stage

In determining whether or not progress has been satisfactory, Managers may find it helpful to consider, in addition to the matters set out under point 4.5 of the ISR Policy, if the employee has demonstrated the following: 






Giving feedback during the ISR Period is a key responsibility of Managers.

The meetings are a two-way process. Staff should be encouraged to discuss what is going well and what could be improved upon. It is important that Managers give positive feedback on aspects of the role that are being performed well in order to both reinforce that expectations are being met and to build the employee’s confidence as well as identifying any areas of concern.

Managers should remember that it is important to take notes at the meeting in order to assist them at the next review meeting or the halfway review and to inform their final decision about suitability in the role. 

(b)   Halfway stage (see ISR Policy, points 4.2 – 4.5)       

In addition to regular 1:1 meetings managers should hold a halfway stage meeting. 

The review meeting at the halfway stage of the ISR Period is a key step in the Manager’s decision making process; this is a requirement of the ISR Policy.  This is the first point in the ISR Period when the Manager makes a formal judgement of the employee’s progress in the role.  From the employee’s perspective it is important both to give positive feedback and to identify any concerns in order to give the employee the time and the opportunity to address them. 

When carrying out the halfway stage review managers may find it helpful to consider the areas outlined in (a) above.  If a Manager wishes to raise concerns at the halfway stage it may be helpful to consider the matters raised in paragraph 7 below.

6. Confirming in Employment 

Prior to the expiry of the ISR Period a final review meeting should be held (under the terms of the ISR Policy). If a Manager is satisfied with an employee’s progress the Manager should inform the employee that, when the ISR Period ends, they will be confirmed in post. 

7. Raising Concerns during the ISR Period (see the ISR Policy, point 5.1)

Wherever possible concerns should be raised with an employee as soon as they have arisen. This can be done at any stage, before, during or after the halfway stage review.

When raising concerns the Manager may wish to consider: 

Managers should keep a note of the meeting, and of the required outcomes, targets, review date(s), etc. and copy it to the employee after the meeting (this could be via email).

If following the review meeting the employee’s suitability for the role improves, the Manager should hold another short review meeting with the employee to confirm the improvement. This should be confirmed in writing (this could be via email). 

If the employee’s suitability for or performance in the role does not improve the Manager may wish to invite the employee to a meeting under the ISR Procedure (see section 8 below).

8. Meeting (see the ISR Procedure, point 2) 

It is important to remember that the employee is likely to be worried about attending a meeting under Ordinance 26 to discuss their suitability for their role.  The Manager’s first responsibility as far as possible is to put the employee at their ease and conduct the meeting in an open and transparent manner. This meeting should be a two-way process and provide both the Manager and the employee with the opportunity to discuss the nature of the Managers concerns and ways in which these concerns may be addressed. 

(a)   Preparing for the meeting (See the ISR Procedure, point 2.1) 

In addition to the matters set out in 2.1 of the ISR Procedure, it will be helpful if the Manager has:

(b) The format of the meeting 

The usual format for the meeting would be: 

(c) At the meeting 

The Manager may: 

(d) Considering the decision

The Manager will consider all information and evidence that has been presented and any mitigating circumstances put forward by the individual. The HR Manager will advise the Manager of their options which may include: 

Following this deliberation the Manager will take their decision. A letter explaining the Manager’s decision and their reasons for it will be drafted by HR and sent by the Manager. 

9. Setting out an Improvement Period (if required) (See ISR Procedure, point 2.2.3) 

Where an improvement period is required the Manager should normally set out in writing:

The Manager may seek advice from HR on any aspect of setting an improvement period.

Where a meeting has been held under the terms of the ISR Procedure and the Manager is satisfied that, following the improvement period, there is sufficient improvement in performance to confirm the employee in post; then section 6 should be followed (confirming in employment).