204: Probationary Employment Period


Employees who are newly hired, reemployed, promoted, demoted, or laterally transferred will serve a probationary period.  Results of the probationary period may be successful completion, extension of the period, or termination of employment.


The probationary period allows an employee time to become proficient in the basic responsibilities of a new position and permits the supervisor to assess the individual’s performance.  The employee and supervisor are encouraged to communicate frequently during the probationary period. 


Length of Probationary Period 
Generally, non-exempt positions have a three month probationary period and exempt positions have a six month probationary period.  Different probationary periods may be identified by the selecting department subject to the approval of the appropriate Human Resources department.  A probationary period will not normally exceed twelve months. A probationary period may be extended for three months as described below. This policy does not apply to senior level executive, senior level professional and certain academic and administrative professional positions.

If a position is reclassified, a probationary period will generally be waived if the incumbent has satisfactorily performed the duties of the position for a period of time equal to, or greater than, the normal probationary period. 

Termination of Employment during Probationary Period 
Normally, an employee will be allowed to complete the probationary period before any decision is made to continue or end employment.  However, if the department determines that performance indicates that the employee cannot accomplish the job or if  the department determines that the individual’s behavior is unacceptable, the University may terminate employment at any time during the probationary period.  The selecting department must obtain the approval of the Human Resources department prior to the termination of the employee. 

An employee may resign during a probationary period.  Advance notice is not required but employees are encouraged to notify the department head in advance, when possible, to allow for a smooth transition. 

If an employee’s performance or conduct during the probationary period is not satisfactory, the supervisor should promptly counsel the individual.  Documentation of the counseling should be kept, including: 

  • dates of counseling,
  • nature of problems,
  • expected corrective action, and
  • dates for reevaluation.

A probationary employee may be dismissed without counseling if the individual exhibits conduct or performance that would result in formal discipline or immediate dismissal of a non-probationary employee.  The University’s discipline policy does not apply during the probationary period. 

Outcomes of Probationary Period 
Before the end of the probationary period, the supervisor should evaluate the employee’s performance and reach one of the conclusions listed below.  The employee must be notified of the decision by the last day of the probationary period.  If the individual is absent, the probationary period is automatically extended until the close of business on the first day the employee returns to work. 

  • Successful completion—The individual has performed satisfactorily the duties assigned during the probationary period, and the probationary period is complete. 
    Extend probation—The individual should be placed on an extended probationary period for up to three additional months.  A probation evaluation form must be completed, including the length of and reason for the extension.  Extensions beyond three months must be requested by the appropriate department head and forwarded in writing to the Human Resources department. 

Reasons for extension of probationary periods include:  

  • The employee has not performed up to expectations, but there is reason to believe the employee may be able to do so if allowed additional time.  Documentation of employee counseling should be kept. 
  • The supervisor has not had sufficient opportunity to fully assess the employee’s performance or the employee has not had adequate opportunity to demonstrate abilities.  The reason for the delay should be stated.
  • The employee has not obtained a required license or certification, or has not met other requirements of the job.
  • Termination—The individual’s performance does not meet requirements for continued employment.  The individual’s employment will be terminated without notice.  The department must obtain the approval of the Human Resources department prior to termination of an employee.

Employees remain covered by the Employment at Will policy during and after the probationary period.


All University departments follow the procedures outlined above.


Contact the Human Resources Department if you have questions or if you would like more information about this policy.