Appeal Rights During the Probationary Period

The probationary/trial period is used to determine an employee's fitness for continued employment in the federal government. Employees in the competitive service typically serve a 1 year probationary period and employees in the excepted service typically serve a 2 year trial period. Until the probationary/trial period has been completed the employee is technically still an applicant for an appointment and can be terminated for any deficiency in performance or conduct with minimal procedural requirements.

Employees terminated during their probationary/trial period have limited appeal rights to the MSPB (the Board). They may appeal to the Board if they believe their termination was based on (a) partisan political reasons, or (b) marital status. They may also appeal the termination based on discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or physical or mental disability, but only if the allegation of such discrimination is raised in addition to (a) or (b) mentioned above.

Before terminating an individual during their probationary period, it is important to understand whether or not he/she meets the definition of an employee as defined in 5 U.S.C. 7511 and 5 CFR part 752, and based on case decisions such as VanWersch V. Dept of Health and Human Services and McCormick v. Dept. of the Air Force. Employees who meet the definition of an employee are entitled to due process and full appeal rights.

For additional information regarding appeal rights during the probationary/trial period refer to the information under References. Management/supervisors should also contact their servicing CPAC for guidance prior to initiating any disciplinary or adverse action.

Content last reviewed: June 24, 2014 - KRB/BWR