90-Day Probationary Periods: What You Need to Know

Businessman in uncertainty concept with many unanswered questionsIn a non-union environment, a 90-day probationary period is a defined period of time in which a newly hired employee becomes acclimated to working for the company. During this time period, the new employee is learning their responsibilities and adapting to their new role. They are likely in training and also regularly being evaluated by management to ensure they are a good fit for the job. Some companies also use probationary periods to reflect waiting periods for benefits such as insurance, paid holidays or paid time off.

In general, there two schools of thought on probationary periods. Some experts recommend not using probationary periods for a couple of reasons. The first is that some believe defining a probationary period is an antiquated concept. The other reason is the fact that some courts have ruled that having a probationary period implies contractual obligations to continue employment once the probationary period has been completed. Other experts believe that retaining a traditional probationary period allows the employer the flexibility to bypass regular corrective measures for poor performance or bad behaviors and terminate immediately for any lawful reason during that time period. Why waste time correcting and coaching right off the bat?

It’s a common misconception that having a probationary period gives the employer a free pass to terminate an employee during this time frame with no consequences. That simply is not the case. Terminating an employee during their probationary period does not prevent them from bringing an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim against the employer. Many companies have done away with defining probationary periods in employee handbooks for this very reason.

Axiom recommends treating newly-hired employees the same as long-time employees. If a new hire has performance or behavioral issues, apply the same policies and follow the same procedures you would for any other employee. If you need assistance ensuring you have the right policies in place, contact Axiom today for an HR consultation at hr@axiomhrs.com.

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