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Implementing and Managing Probationary Periods - Checklist

Authors: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor and Cheryl Lipton, The GhostWriters, Ltd.

A probationary period (also called an introductory period, review period or orientation) is a trial period at the beginning of an employee's work tenure during which the employee and employer can test whether the relationship meets their needs. Probationary periods can be excellent tools for determining an employee's cultural fit in the workplace.

Employers in a union-free or partially unionized workplace that wish to preserve at-will employment relationships should exercise caution when implementing probationary periods as part of reaching their overall performance management goals. Policy language must not imply that a contractual, and not at-will, employment relationship exists if employment continues past the probationary period.

Following the specific steps outlined in the checklist below will assist employers in the effective implementation and management of probationary periods to ensure the best possible talent management results for the organization.