Changes to 90 Day Trial Periods

On 23 December 2023, the Government changed the use of trial periods in employment agreements so they can now be used by all employers, not just employers with 19 or fewer employees as had formerly been the case. It is important that employers and employees understand the basics rules around trial periods.

What is a Trial Period?

A trial period is a period during which an employer can terminate an employee without following the normal steps required by law.

In order for a trial period to be enforceable, there must be a provision in an employment agreement which states:

  1. From the beginning of the employee’s employment, for a stated period which does not exceed 90 days, the employee will serve a trial period.
  2. During this period, the employer can dismiss the employee.
  3. If the employer dismisses the employee during this period, the employee is not entitled to bring legal proceedings in respect of the dismissal.

Other Considerations

Employers note :

  • A trial period cannot be used in an agreement with an employee who has previously worked for the employer.
  • A trial period must be agreed to (i.e. the employment agreement signed) before the employee starts work otherwise the trial period will be invalid.
  • Where an employee is bound by a collective agreement, to the extent that a trial period in an employee’s individual agreement is inconsistent with the collective agreement, it will not apply


In order for dismissal during a trial period to be valid, the employer must give the employee the required amount of notice under the agreement within the trial period.

The steps an employer does not have to follow for dismissal of an employee during a trial period (that they would otherwise have to follow) are:

  1. The employer is not required to provide the employee with access to information about the employer’s decision to dismiss or to provide the employee an opportunity to respond to this information.
  2. The employer is not required to provide reasons for the dismissal when requested by the employee (although it may be good practice to). Outside of a trial period, an employee must provide reasons when an employee requests them within 60 days of dismissal.

It is important to get trial periods right. If you have any questions about them, please contact our team.