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Trial and Probation Periods

Trial period

Employers can make an offer of employment to a prospective employee that includes a trial period of up to 90 days. Trial periods are voluntary, and must be agreed in writing and negotiated in good faith as part of the employment agreement. A trial period can’t be offered to an employee who has been previously employed by that employer.

An employee who is dismissed before the end of a trial period can’t raise a personal grievance on the grounds of unjustified dismissal. They can raise a personal grievance on other grounds, such as discrimination or harassment or unjustified action by the employer.

If any employment relationship problem arises, access to mediation is available at any point.

While an employer is not required to provide written reasons for an employee’s dismissal, there is an expectation that an employer, acting in good faith, would inform the employee as to why he or she has been dismissed. Any provisions about giving notice in the employment agreement will need to be adhered to.

Employees on trial periods are entitled to all other minimum employment rights, for example in relation to health and safety, employment agreements, minimum pay, annual holidays, public holidays, leave and equal pay.

Probation Periods

An employer also has the option to an initial probationary period. If the first part of the employment relationship is a probation period this must be recorded in writing in the employment agreement including its duration.

A probation period allows the new employee to demonstrate their skills . Such arrangements may be permissible where the duration and tasks are limited and designed to give the employer a fair opportunity to assess the skills.

Employers may not use such an arrangement to get work done without having to pay for it. A probation period does not limit the legal rights and obligations of the employer or the employee, and both parties must deal with each other in good faith.