Probationary periods

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
A probationary period is a type of temporary employment arrangement whereby an employer hires an applicant for a certain period of time, usually for 60 or 90 days. These periods are designed to give an employer an opportunity to determine whether an employee is suitable and qualified for the work for which he or she is hired. During a probationary period, employees aren't guaranteed continued employment. If the employee's service during the probationary period is deemed unsatisfactory, he or she can usually be terminated at any time and for any reason. On the other hand, employees who have satisfactorily completed their probationary period may have the opportunity to continue working for the employer on a permanent basis if they choose to. Probationary periods can be beneficial to both employer and employee, as it gives each an opportunity to test an employment relationship before any commitment is made. Generally, companies who operate in an employment-at-will state don't need to utilize a probationary period, as they have the right to fire an employee at any time. However, if companies choose to hire on the basis of a probation period, they can negate an employee's at-will status by making promises of job security or use language that creates a contract. As a result, to avoid liability, employers should remind all employees hired for probationary periods in writing that they may be terminated for any reason and at any time, either during or after the probation period is over.

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