Employment lawyers at LK Shields have urged employers to review their practices on probationary periods in the light of new EU regulations that came into force in Ireland last month.
They say that, while the regulations introduce significant changes to the law on contracts of employment and working conditions for employees, the new rules on the length of probationary periods in contracts of employment are of “particular importance”.
The European Union (Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions) Regulations 2022 came into effect on 16 December.
In a note on the firm’s website, the LK Shields lawyers note that, in the private sector, the probationary periods of employees should not exceed six months, except in exceptional circumstances.
“The introduction of a maximum probationary period will have a significant impact on how employers address probationary periods, in their contracts of employment and in practice,” they say.
The lawyers add that, where the probationary period is to be longer than six months, it cannot exceed 12 months and must “be in the interest of the employee”.
LK Shields notes that there is currently “no further guidance” on what is envisaged as being in the interest of the employee.
The regulations also provide for extensions of probationary periods for employees who avail of certain categories of protected leave, such as maternity or sick leave, during their probation.
For fixed-term contracts, the length of a probationary period is to be proportionate to the expected duration of the fixed-term contract, and the nature of the work.