Termination During Probationary Period or from Temporary Appointment
Termination during Probationary Period
There are 2 types of probationary periods:
- probationary periods for employees who are new to the Federal government, and
- probationary periods for new supervisors or managers.
Both probationary periods begin on the date of an employee's entry into the position and last for 12 months.
The probationary period provides an opportunity to measure the new employee's actual performance on the job against your assessment of his/her potential made at the time the employee was hired. It also provides you with the opportunity to remove the employee from a position (generally without a right to appeal the removal to the MSPB) should the employee's performance and/or conduct fall short of expectations and job performance requirements.
If, at any time during a probationary period you determine that your employee's performance does not warrant retention in the position, contact your Servicing Employee Relations Specialist.
Probationary Period for New Employees
The probationary period for new employees is considered an extension of the examining process. It allows you, as the supervisor, the opportunity to observe an employee's performance and conduct so you can make a final determination whether the employee can meet job requirements and, therefore, should continue in the job.
A new employee serves a one-year probationary period when he/she has been selected from a certificate of eligibles and given a career-conditional or career appointment. Most reinstatement and transfer eligibles have already completed their probationary periods, so they are not subjected to probationary terminations.
Personnel will notify you at the time of the appointment if your employee must serve a probationary period and when the probationary period will end. (You should check the comments section in the SF-50 sent to you to see if the probationary period is applicable.)
If, during your employee's probationary period, you identify that he/she has performance or conduct problems, contact your Servicing Personnel Management or Employee Relations Specialist immediately to discuss what should be done to correct the problem or to separate the employee during the probationary period. If you are having concerns about the performance/conduct of your employee you should seek assistance now and not wait until the end of the probationary period to act.
The Employee Relations Specialist will help you decide whether (1) to informally assist the employee in improving his/her performance and/or conduct, or (2) to separate the employee from the Service. If the decision is to separate the employee, the Employee Relations Specialist will assist you in preparing an advance written notice to the employee, which will state the reasons for and the effective date of the termination (See Exhibit 6A for a sample probationary termination letter.).
The reasons for probationary terminations do not need to be long and involved. You simply must state a nonarbitrary, noncapricious, nondiscriminatory, legitimate reason why the employee is not suitable for retention, identifying general types of complaints and deficiencies (e.g., general failure to grasp and retain information, absenteeism, general inability to get along well with coworkers, etc.). In addition, it is important that you be able to demonstrate that you have treated the employee fairly during his/her probationary period.
Removing an employee during the probationary period is a relatively simple procedure. Unacceptable performance and adverse action procedures do not apply, and there is a very limited right of appeal to the MSPB. (However, an employee may file an EEO complaint if he/she believes that the termination was based in whole or in part on illegal discrimination.) If your employee has a performance or conduct problem, taking care of it during the probationary period can save you hundreds of hours in trying to rectify the problem after the probationary period has expired.
Probationary Period for New Supervisors and Managers
Each new supervisor and manager in the competitive civil service is required to complete a one-year probationary period. At the time of the appointment, the Personnel Office will notify you if the employee must serve a supervisory or managerial probationary period and when the probationary period will expire.
During the probationary period, the new manager's or supervisor's performance is carefully monitored, with emphasis on helping the individual succeed with appropriate training being provided as needed. If, during the one-year probationary period, the employee is found to be unsuited to the demands of the position, he/she must be placed in a nonsupervisory (or nonmanagerial) position of no lower grade and pay than the one he/she left when accepting the supervisory (or managerial) position.
Adverse action or unacceptable performance procedures do not apply in these cases. Employees terminated during their supervisory or managerial probationary periods do not have the right to appeal the action to the MSPB. However, EEO complaint rights DO apply.
Termination from Temporary Appointment
You can terminate an employee from a temporary appointment at any time for any legitimate management reason. Normally, temporary employees are terminated for reasons such as "expiration of temporary appointment," "lack of work," or "lack of funds." However, if you determine that a temporary employee is unsuited for continued employment, e.g., if the employee's conduct or performance is unsatisfactory, you may terminate him/her.
While not required, it is good practice to provide the employee with advance notice of termination. Although a SF-50 (personnel action) is considered an acceptable notice for employees not separated for cause, a written notice should be provided to employees being terminated for cause. That written notice should explain the nonarbitrary, noncapricious, nondiscriminatory, legitimate reason(s) why the employee is not suitable for retention, e.g., normally the types of complaints and deficiencies are general failure to grasp and retain information, absenteeism, general inability to get along well with coworkers, etc. (Exhibit 6B contains an example of a written notice of termination from a temporary appointment.)
An employee terminated from a temporary appointment does not have the right to appeal the action to the MSPB. However, the employee may file an EEO complaint if he/she believes that the termination was based in whole or in part on illegal discrimination.