Probation Period

When it comes to HR, recruitment and hiring can be quite a process. From job postings to first and second (sometimes even third) interviews, and then selecting from a handful of top candidates, it could take anywhere from three weeks to three months to hire a new employee. With all these efforts, employers may want to set a probation period. This allows you to evaluate if your new recruit is a good fit, and if not, to terminate the contract.

What is a probation period?

In terms of employment, a probation period allows employers to try out job candidates for a short period of time, before making them a permanent hire. This introductory period can provide employers with protection from poor hiring choices. It offers an initial opportunity for employees to go above and beyond to prove their capabilities and exceed expectations. On the other hand, it also gives the employee a chance to get comfortable with the workplace culture, and decide if the environment is right for them.

Probation period need-to-knows for employers

If you include a trial period for new employees, there are two things you should consider:

  1. Length of probation
  2. Agreement in writing

First, there is no formal legislation that covers probation periods. However, according to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) where termination is defined, the maximum length of probation should be one day less than three months. Beyond the three month mark, you must provide your employee with either written notice of termination, termination pay, or a combination of the two.

Second, if you are to include a probation period, you must put it in writing. In doing so, clearly state that the employment is probationary and specify the length of probation. Other things to include in the agreement is a statement around ability to terminate and the reasons for doing so.


If you have questions about setting a probation period for new employees, ask Employer Line’s HR experts. Our dedicated advice line is free for business owners to call anytime, with our 24-hour services – 1(833) 247-3650.