Probationary Period

An employee must serve a probationary period during the first year of his/her initial permanent Federal appointment to determine fitness for continued employment. An Agency may terminate the services of an employee if his/her work performance or conduct fails to demonstrate his/her fitness or qualifications for continued employment during the initial one-year probationary period.

Prior Federal civilian service (including Nonappropriated Fund service) counts toward completion of the probationary period when the prior service:

  1. Is in the same agency, e.g., Dept of Army;

  2. Is in the same line of work (determined by the employee's actual duties and responsibilities); and,

  3. Contains or is followed by no more than a single break in service that does not exceed 30 calendar days.

During the probationary period, the supervisor must continually evaluate the employee's job performance and work behavior, as well as his/her character, conduct, and attitude that directly affect job performance. The supervisor should document the employee's performance and conduct throughout the probationary period.

Prior to the end of the one-year probationary period, the Civilian Personnel Operations Center (CPOC) will notify management of the requirement for written certification of the employee's performance. If the supervisory certification is not timely, an employee who does not deserve continued employment may attain that status by default.

If an employee is failing to meet the requirements during the probationary period, the supervisor must take action early and consult with the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) on available options such as:

  • Reassignment. Reassigning an employee during the probationary period does not mean that he/she must begin a new one-year probationary period.

  • Change to Lower Grade. Changing an employee to a lower grade during the probationary period does not mean that he/she must begin a new one-year probationary period.

  • Termination. Probationary employees who are subject to administrative actions have very limited rights to have the action reviewed by outside third parties such as arbitrator or the Merit Systems Protection Board.

A probationary employee, whose performance and/or conduct are unsatisfactory, may be removed at any time during the probationary period. The supervisor does not have to wait until the end of the probationary period to initiate action. When initiating action, the supervisor should consult with the CPAC early in the process.

An employee is also required to serve a probationary period upon initial appointment to a supervisory or managerial position.

Content last reviewed: 6/8/2006-SWL


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This page was last revised: 6/8/2006