What is trial period?

A trial period refers to a period at the start of employment when both the employee and the employer can terminate the employment with an immediate effect. The purpose of a trial period is to find out if the signed work contract meets the employee’s and the employer’s expectations.

The work contract must provide for a trial period and its duration. Signing a work contract, the employer can also notify that the provision regarding trial periods in the collective agreement is applied on the employment. If the trial period has not been included in the work contract or if the employer neglects the duty to notify as described above, the employment shall not include a trial period.

Trial period duration

If the employee has taken sick leave or family leave during the trial period, the employer has a right to extend the trial period by one month for every 30 calendar days that the employee had off due to sickness or child-care responsibilities.  The employer must then notify the employee of the longer trial period before their original trial period ends.

In fixed-term employment the trial period, including possible extensions, cannot exceed half of the length of the work contract, and the maximum length is always six months. If there are several successive fixed-term contracts, the new fixed-term work contract cannot include a trial period unless the duties are changed essentially.

A trial period can be a maximum of six months according to the main rule.

Trial period cancellation

Within the trial period, both the employer and the employee can terminate the work contract to end immediately. In connection to the trial period cancellation, no notice period must hence be adhered to.

Restrictions on trial period cancellation

The law provides for restrictions on the use of trial period cancellation. The work contract must not be cancelled firstly on discriminatory or secondly inappropriate grounds with regard to the purpose of the trial period.

In practice, prohibited grounds for cancellation during the trial period include the following:

  • discriminatory grounds as defined in the Equality and Non-discrimination Act, such as employee’s pregnancy, gender, age, origin, nationality, language, religion, convictions, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relations, health, disability, sexual orientation or other similar reason related to employee’s person,
  • employer’s financial and production-related grounds,
  • employer’s mistake, for instance employer’s false assessment of an employee’s work performance,
  • employee’s participation in legal industrial action,
  • using employee’s legal rights appropriately.

In addition, it is to be noted that the restrictions on the cancellation of employment during a trial period apply to the employee, too. As an example, the supreme court has rendered a decision that stated that a player had terminated a contract on inappropriate grounds when no other reason had been presented for the cancellation than getting a better remuneration in another basketball team.

What to do if you suspect the employment was cancelled illegally during a trial period?

If you suspect that your employment was terminated illegally during a trial period, you should contact your trade union. Many trade unions offer lawyer and legal aid services free of charge as member benefit so you can get help to your situation from there.