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13 May 2020

Trial period – the most important aspects

One of the most important but highly underrated aspects of the entire recruitment and employment process is arguably the trial period. It is a crucial time when an employee faces new responsibilities in new surroundings, and also the perfect opportunity to assess whether the job position is well suited for the skillset and mindset of the employee. The trial period brings benefits both the employer and the employee; therefore it is a common practice to include the probatory time clause in written contracts. The provisions of the agreement should specify such aspects as:

  • length of the trial period, as well as rules regarding prolongment of reduction of this period due to specific circumstances;
  • responsibilities during said period;
  • terms of termination of employment (notice period).

In Norwegian law, the rules concerning the trial period are contained in the Working Environment Act, specifically sections 15-3 (7) and 15-6.

The definition of the trial period

Briefly speaking, the trial employment period is the first stage of employment, agreed between the employer and employee, aimed at assessing the employee’s competence and match for the position and responsibilities that employees have been entrusted with. From the employee’s point of view, it is a period during which he has the chance to learn about the specifics of a given work and the variety of duties.

The trial period is, therefore, an opportunity for both the employer and employee. The relatively short reciprocal period notice ensures more favorable conditions for terminating or not renewing the contract if either party or both concludes that cooperation should not be continued.

How long can the trial period last?

The length of the trial period is the most important aspect. Both contractors must ensure that it is not too short – an employee must have the opportunity to explore every aspect, employer, on the other hand, to fully evaluate the worker’s results – as well as not too long, which can disturb the work process by holding the employee who does not meet the requirements for too long.

According to the Working Environment Act, the trial period can never be longer than 6 months, unless the employee has been absent from work during the said period.

In case of the significant absence – sick leave, other important circumstances – the period can be extended, following the agreement, but ultimately can never surpass six months. Additionally, an extension cannot extend the period of absence.

The written notice with the information about the extension is necessary under the provisions of the WEA and must be handed or made available to the employer before the end of the trial period.

Termination of employment during the trial period

The whole point of the trial period is a full evaluation of the employee taken in the closed period, so theoretically termination of the employment mid-term is against the logic of the trial period, especially if the employee did not manage to receive the entire training.

The employer must ensure that employees are given necessary instructions, guidance, and training to properly perform their official duties.

But in practice, the employer can terminate the trial period of employment – to do this; according to Section 15-6 of the Working Environment Act, the written notice for an employee must be handed to him before the trial period ends. The notice period must be explicitly stated in the contract – it is mostly set at 14 days, but can be longer if the parties agree upon that earlier and include this in the contract. The deadline runs from the date the notice is given, and not from the first day of the month following.

The employer should also present the reason for termination. The most common reasons for premature termination are the issues related to the professionalism, reliability, and skill level of the employee.

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