Probationary Periods for At-Will Employees

January 30, 2019 • April Mabry

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?

April Mabry is an assistant director at TASB HR Services. Send April an email at

Tagged: "Employee performance", "Employment law", Hiring