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Probationary Periods for At-Will Employees

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A recent SHRM article addresses the issue of whether probationary periods are appropriate for at-will employees.

Districts are familiar with the probationary contract provisions in Texas Education Code Chapter 21 and often wonder if the same trial period of employment is appropriate for other employee groups.

Probationary periods aren’t common in non-unionized settings and can be disadvantageous for school districts for a variety of reasons:

  • Employees may perceive employment past the probationary period as guaranteed (e.g., implied contract)
  • Employees aren’t exempt from benefits (e.g., TRS membership, required benefit enrollment periods)
  • Probationary periods don’t provide protection from unemployment claims

The best practice is to avoid probationary periods and implement good hiring and onboarding practices.

For more information on the topic, check out the SHRM article, Are Probationary Periods Passé?


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April Mabry
April Mabry
TASB HR Services Assistant Director

April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools  since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.

Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.

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