Probation period extension law

Everyone needs a second chance sometimes

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Tuesday, Nov 02, 2021

One of your employees has finished their probation period. After your review of their performance so far, you feel that you can’t pass their probation yet.

Did you know that you can extend a probation period?

What is a probation period extension?

Think of it as more time for an employee to meet their targets. Some employees take longer than others to show their abilities at work.

What reasons are there for extending a probation period?

Probation period extension reasons could include the employee needing to:

  • Improve their performance
  • Meet targets
  • Improve attendance or punctuality
  • Correct general conduct within the workplace
  • Learn a new skill that will allow them to meet required standards

If the employee suffers a long leave of absence, you might decide that an extension will give them the time needed to meet your review criteria. You will have only introduced an extension to make up for the lost time.

How long should a probation period extension be?

Use a probation period extension letter to tell an employee how long. The length is often one month, but you can extend month-by-month if you think the employee still needs more time.

In the letter, you should also include:

  • Extension reasons
  • Targets for your employee
  • Date of the next performance review

Can I extend a probation period—what is the law?

Yes, you can. There are no firm probation period extension laws.

Should an employee’s contract mention a probation period extension?


You will protect your business by specifying your right to extend the employee’s probation period in their contract, which both parties should sign when the employee starts working for you. This section of the probation period clause should also include the length of a potential extension.

It’s your duty as an employer to treat all employees fairly. You should extend a probationary period because of the sort of reasons listed above. You should not let factors such as race, age, gender, etc. influence your decisions when conducting a performance review.

What if an employee’s contract does not mention a probation period extension?

If the probation period clause in their contract does not specify your right to extend the probation period, there are three options available to you at the end of the period of probation:

  1. Pass the employee and confirm their employment
  2. Fail the employee and dismiss them
  3. Try to agree on an extension (employees do not have to agree if the contract does not mention your right to extend)

To avoid the problem of trying to convince an employee to agree, make sure that their contract states your right to extend a probation period.

Since there no probation period extension rules, you should make sure that you draft a sound contract.

For best practice, communicate all information in writing. Written records will help your business if you ever need to provide evidence of undertaking “reasonable process” before or after a dismissal.

It’s not a punishment

Remember, a probation period extension is a second chance for an employee who could have a positive impact on your business—but has not quite proved himself or herself—to repay your faith.

With our smart HR software, you'll keep on top of probations and make sure you never forget to schedule a performance review.

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