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Abbey National’s Zombie Probation

January 23, 2016

15 October 1990
In accordance with the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act, 1978 ….
This appointment is subject to a probationary period of normally three months with regular reviews.

4 March 1991
I confirm that your membership of the staff pension scheme commenced on 01/03/1991.
The first contribution will be deducted from your salary on 19/03/1991 ….
Yours sincerely
Administrative Assistant

3 April 1991
Re: Philip Chippendale – Mortgage Account No – 5Tnnnnn
I write to confirm that with effect from 5 February 1991, the above named successfully completed his probationary period and is therefore entitled to have his staff mortgage re-arranged such that £nnnnn is paid at the concessionary rate of x%.
Recruitment Officer

23 August 1991
To Phil Chippendale
From Judith Parsnip, Senior Project Leader, Office Systems
Copies to P. Dork, Manager, Finance, Banking and Office Systems
Following our meeting last Friday and you subsequent memorandum to me I would like to re-state the following points.
You are working a three month probationary period in Office systems with now less than one month of that time left. In your first month your performance was less than satisfactory however, following the work plan agreed at that time, you have performed satisfactorily in the second month. The decision as to whether or not your appointment will be confirmed, will be made at the end of the probationary period.
Your application for support to do a DMS course is not granted at this time. Whilst Abbey National have a policy to encourage study of appropriate subjects, these must be both relevant to the job at hand and tangible benefits to the company need to have been identified.
The benefits of the DMS course will accrue best when you are in a management role. Should this be the case in the future you are free to re-apply to your manager at that time. The granting of support is a concession and not a right.
You are, of course, free to study in your own time and at your own expense.
As a final point the Sharesave scheme second issue is only available to you if your appointment is confirmed by the 11th of September. I will discuss this matter with Paul Dork on his return from leave in the meantime you are free to apply if you so wish.

2 September 1991
Dear Mr Chippendale,
With reference to your conversation with Judy Parsnip last week, on behalf of the Company I would like to formally confirm your appointment to the position of Analyst/Programmer II, Grade 6 in Office Systems.
As you are aware this is a grade lower than the original position offered but we feel it is a better reflection of the skills and experience you have to offer at this stage of your career. Your contract of employment remains unchanged in every other respect and I confirm that your current salary of £nnnnn will not be altered.
Your signature of the enclosed copy of this letter signifies acceptance of this position and as a formal amendment to your contract. I would thus be grateful if you would return it as soon as possible.
If in the meantime you have any queries or would, like to discuss anything further please do not hesitate to contact me on extension xxxxx.
Wishing you every success in your new position.
Yours sincerely
Anita Ratt
Senior Personnel Officer
Personnel and Training (MSD)

28 June 1993
Dear Phillip,
In recognition of your recent enquiry to ANSA in relation to your probationary period, I am now writing to confirm that your substantive grade is Grade 7, Analyst/Programmer I.
If you have any further queries regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours sincerely,
Sally Worms
Personnel Officer
Personnel & Training (MSD)

DMS = Diploma of Management Studies. Nene College Northampton’s faculty of management and business offered me a place, on one of Abbey National’s approved courses. The interviewer complimented my GMAT score. Abbey National’s group training and development department registered my course and offered me a cash reward to pass. I was set to go when Mrs. Parsnip vetoed it. It was good of Mrs. Parsnip to point out that I could study in my time and at my own expense, but in the end I chose a different use of my resources.

I wonder what skills and experience Abbey National was looking for. I wonder how many people with  A-level grade “A”s in maths, physics and chemistry, and/or a degree from Oxford University they demoted. The person appointed to be my grade 7 line manager was at least a decade younger than me, almost straight out of college. The renewed probation prevented me from attending my uncle’s funeral, as I wasn’t allowed time off. For me this was a humiliation too far.  I found it difficult to be motivated after that. Eventually Abbey National management accused me of vexatious use of the company grievance procedure, although they were forced to reinstate my grade after breaking my contract of employment, they sacked me.

I doubt the managers who promoted each other at Abbey National were exceptionally competent. Abbey National itself wasn’t sufficiently well managed to make it as far as the credit crunch. They bought a vast quantity of the corporate debt of Enron, in a deal actual bankers avoided. Fortunately for Abbey there were still well-capitalised banks around to buy them out. Barclays, Lloyds and Santander were all possibilities. In the end, Santander made the purchase. While many people thought Barclays would, nobody expected the Spanish institution.


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