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Probation, Trial Service, and Layoff Trial Periods

Probation, trial service, and layoff trial periods are intended to give a supervisor and staff member an opportunity to assess whether a new employment relationship is a good match for all parties. The duration covered by each evaluation period varies according to the type of period and the affected employee's classification. An overview of each of these periods is available on the central HR Web site.

The supervisor's ability to end an unsuccessful hire is less restricted during the evaluation period than after the evaluation period has ended. A supervisor or employee who determines that there is not a good employment match during an evaluation period should contact the College of Engineering Human Resources Team as soon as possible during the covered period.

The decision to end an appointment during an evaluation period may require action by College and University Human Resources staff, and by the Dean, who is the Appointing Authority for the College of Engineering; Supervisors should contact the College of Engineering Human Resources Team prior to taking any employment action.

In general terms, ending an appointment during an evaluation period involves the following steps. Supervisors are recommended to contact the CoE Human Resources team to discuss their specific situation. This process can occur at any time, but must be completed prior to the end of the evaluation period.

  1. At the beginning of an evaluation period, the supervisor conducts formal and informal training sessions with the new employee and monitors the employee's performance. During this period, the supervisor should be prepared to give informal feedback to the employee as necessary, clarifying performance expectations and addressing any performance concerns.
  2. If the supervisor has continuing performance concerns, s/he should alert the College of Engineering Human Resources Administrator and prepare to meet with the employee to address these concerns.
  3. At this meeting (referred to here as an "informal counseling session"), the supervisor will present the employee with a memo outlining performance concerns and stating performance expectations. This meeting is intended to help the employee understand the supervisor's concerns, allow the employee and supervisor an opportunity to strategize ways to work collaboratively to better match employee performance to supervisor expectations, and to alert the employee that s/he may not successfully complete the evaluation period. Thus, the informal counseling session and memo should include these features:
  • The informal counseling session should:
    • allow time for both parties to communicate their perspectives, and
    • include time for discussing resources (e.g., increased communication, classes, informal training) and other strategies to better match the employee's performance to the supervisor's expectations
  • The memo should:
    • cite specific examples (including dates, descriptions of errors, behaviors or other problems),
    • cite specific performance expectations related to the above examples, and
    • include a statement such as, "It is my desire to work with you to help you be successful in your job; however, if concerns regarding your performance continue, you may not successfully complete your evaluation period."
  • After this meeting, the supervisor will continue to monitor the employee's performance in order to gauge whether continuing performance concerns merit termination of the employment relationship. The supervisor should maintain contact with the College of Engineering Human Resources Administrator during this period.
  • If the supervisor decides to pursue separation (or reversion to a prior position or the layoff list, whichever is appropriate for the situation),s/he will generally need to submit a letter to the Dean (the appointing authority for CoE) requesting approval for this action.
  • If the Dean concurs with this action, representatives from the Dean's office will work with central Human Resources staff to draft a letter which grants permission for this action. This letter will be delivered to the supervisor directly.
  • Once approval to separate (or reassign) the employee has been granted , the Supervisor will need to meet with the individual prior to the probationary period end date to inform the employee of this decision. It is typical to give notice the same day of the termination, but additional notice may be granted in certain circumstances. The CoE Human Resources Administrator can assist supervisors in determining an allowable amount of notice to give under the circumstances