An employee and an employer can agree on a trial period at the beginning of a new employment relationship. The purpose of a trial period is to find out whether the employment contract meets the expectations of both parties. Any trial period and its duration must be specifically agreed in the employment contract. When concluding the employment contract, the employer may also inform the employee that the provision of the relevant collective agreement on trial periods will apply to the employment relationship. If no trial period has been agreed or no reference to the trial period provision of the collective agreement has been made, the employment relationship does not involve any trial period. As a general rule, the same parties may only agree on a trial period once.
Duration of a trial period
The provision covering trial periods in the Employment Contracts Act changed on 1 January 2017. The legislative amendment extends the maximum duration of a trial period to 6 months. However, it is possible to agree on a shorter trial period as part of collective agreements.
Indeed, some collective agreements include specific clauses on the duration of trial periods, which means that the legislative amendment will not extend the trial period to 6 months. You should check the duration of the trial period in your own collective agreement and, if necessary, contact PAM.
- The Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector includes a provision concerning trial periods, where the maximum duration is 4 months.
- The hotel and restaurant sector has a maximum trial period of 4 months.
- The pharmacy sector has agreed on a 4-month trial period.
- The Collective Agreement for the Facilities Services Sector: trial periods cannot be extended to 6 months.
- Security services: maximum trial period of 6 months.
Cancelling an employment contract during a trial period
During a trial period, the employment contract can be cancelled by either party with immediate effect and no term of notice. However, the trial period must not be used to cancel the contract on grounds that are inappropriate with regard to the purpose of the trial period. Inappropriate grounds include an employee’s pregnancy or election as a shop steward, for example. Furthermore, an employment contract cannot be cancelled for financial and production-related reasons.