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Trial period

A trial period may be agreed for the start of the employment relationship, during which both the employee and employer can cancel the employment relationship with immediate effect. The trial period cannot begin proactively before the employment relationship starts or later into the employment relationship: it must begin the moment the employee starts working. The maximum length of a trial period is six months. In fixed-term employment contracts, the trial period, even if extended, cannot exceed half of the term of the contract or a maximum period of six months. The purpose of the trial period is to give both parties time to consider whether the employment contract meets their expectations.

A trial period requires an explicit agreement. If proof of a trial period agreement is required, the burden of proof lies with the party invoking the trial period.

Usually, a trial period can only be set at the beginning of the employment relationship. However, if the employee’s role or duties change substantially during a non-fixed term employment contract, a new trial period can be set when the employee starts in the new role.

If a long time has passed since the previous employment contract between the parties, a trial period can be included in the new employment contract. So, as a rule, a trial period cannot be included in each successive fixed-term contract, except when the employee’s duties change substantially under the new employment contract. The employer has the right to extend the trial period if the employee is absent from work during the trial period due to disability or family leave. The employer must notify the employee that the trial period has been extended before the trial period ends. 

Some collective agreements include trial period provisions. The employee may not be aware of the content of the collective agreement. When concluding the employment contract, the employer must notify the employee if the trial period provision of the collective agreement is applied. If the employer fails to comply with this obligation, a trial period based on a collective agreement may not be applied to the employment contract.

Cancelling an employment contract during a trial period

Both the employer and the employee can cancel the employment contract during the trial period. Cancellation during the trial period cannot be done before the work begins.

The basis for cancelling may be that the employment is on a trial period, but the cancellation may not be made on improper grounds. Such an improper grounds for cancelling during the trial period could be, for example, a situation where the Non-discrimination Act or the Equality Act is violated. Since the purpose of the trial period is to give both parties time to assess whether the hiring was successful, a proper grounds for cancellation could be, for example, that the employee’s expectations have not been met in terms of work tasks or the work community. Similarly, the employer could cancel the employment contract during the trial period if it is clear that the employee is not suitable for the tasks or work community.

According to established case law, cancelling an employment contract during a trial period is justified in itself, but before doing that, the employer must give the employee the opportunity to be heard regarding the reasons for terminating the employment contract. The employer must also provide more detailed reasons for cancelling the employment contract during the trial period, at least upon request.

Do you need more information about cancelling an employment contract during the trial period?

Log in to the OMA+ service and watch the second section of Lakiruutu, which explains issues related to cancellation during a trial period in more detail. Lakiruutu answers, among other things, questions about extending the trial period, grounds for cancelling during a trial period and the employer’s obligation to give a reason for termination.