90 Day Trial Period – What is it?

The 90 day trial period is a key component of employment law, yet employers and employees alike are often still in the dark about the purpose and function of the process.

The 90 day trial period is designed for employers to give employees a “chance”, and assess how they will fit into a particular company. It allows employers to dismiss employees within the first 90 days of their employment without giving a reason or following traditional dismissal procedure. The employee does not have the ability to bring a personal grievance claim for unfair dismissal. If an employee works past the 90 day trial period and has not been dismissed – they become a permanent employee.

The period runs for 90 calendar days – not working days.

The 90 day trial period can be an extremely useful tool for employers provided it is utilised correctly and employers are fully aware of how the law operates to ensure fairness for employees.

You need to document the trial period?

It’s vital for both employee and employer alike that the 90 day trial period is clearly documented in an employment agreement, otherwise it will not be considered valid.

It must be entered into in good faith, which means that neither party can force the other into it.

If you are an employee, you must sign the agreement before starting work – at least one day prior, and have had the ability to seek independent advice should you wish to. If you are an employer, you must ensure that you provide your new staff member with a copy of their contract prior to their start date – usually a minimum of 3 days before.

How does dismissal work?

Your employment agreement may set out a minimum notice to be given in the case of dismissal. Employers must ensure that they give the employee notice while the employee is still in the trial period. Notice must be written.

Under the law, employers are not required to provide a reason for dismissal. However, it’s best practice to at least offer some feedback so that individuals are able to learn from the experience and apply it to their future jobs. Furthermore, if the employee asks for a reason, the employer is required to provide it.

What are my rights and obligations?

If you are an employee, it’s important to note that although during the 90 day trial period you cannot bring a personal grievance against your employer for unfair dismissal, you still retain the right to bring personal grievance if you have been treated unfairly in other ways. These include but are not limited to harassment, bullying, or being discriminated against for race or age.

You have the same minimum rights as any other employees, such as your right to fair breaks, minimum wage, Health and Safety expectations and more.

If you are an employer, you must treat your employee as you would any other employee. You must ensure that you pay the employee holiday pay and sick leave, and in essence, give them all the benefits of a permanent staff member whilst they are on the trial.

Employers are not able to extend trial periods. It’s possible to mutually agree on a trial period shorter than 90 days, however you cannot agree on a longer one. Furthermore, you may not place a previous or existing employee on a trial period. The period is for employers to determine if an employee is suited to the role they are being employed in.