A part of the validity period of an employment contract may consist of a trial period. The use and length of a trial period is a matter of agreement. The purpose of a trial period is to give the parties to the employment relationship a period to consider continuing the employment relationship. According to the Employment Contracts Act a trial period cannot be longer than six months. In a fixed-term employment relationship the trial period may not exceed half of the employment contract’s duration (and no more than six months). If a collective agreement applicable to the employer contains a provision on a trial period, the employer must inform the employee of the application of this provision at the time the contract is concluded.
As a main rule it is only possible to agree upon a trial period once during an employment relationship. The trial period may only take place at the start of the employment relationship. However, it might be possible to agree upon a new trial period if the employer takes an old employee back to work or the tasks and the employee’s position within the company’s organisation undergo notable changes.
If, during the trial period, the employee has been absent due to incapacity for work or family leave, the employer is entitled to extend the trial period by one month for every 30 calendar days included in the periods of incapacity for work or family leave. The employer shall notify the employee of the trial period extension before the end of the trial period.
Cancellation of the employment contract during the trial period
If the employment contract is cancelled during the trial period, the employment relationship ends immediately. According to case law, permitted grounds for cancellation have been related to inadequate job performance. This could for an example mean that the employee has been unsuited for the job or the outcome of the work has been unsatisfactory.
It is not permitted to cancel the employment contract on discriminatory or otherwise inappropriate grounds. According to the non-discrimination act no one may be discriminated against for example on the basis of age, religion, trade union activity, family relationships or state of health. Inappropriate grounds can be related to the i.e. the mistake of the employer.
An employer may use the trial period as the ground for cancelling the employment contract during the trial period. However, at the employee’s request, the employer shall notify the employee of the grounds for cancellation known by the employer to have caused the termination.
The employer must pay compensation for an unjustified cancellation of the employment contract.