What is an employee probation period?
Probation can be broadly defined as a trial period for newly recruited workers. Probation periods commonly last for three months, six months, or a year.
It’s usually a fixed period of time at the beginning of the employment relationship, during which the new employee is exempt from some contractual items. Most significantly, employees on probation can be let go without the standard notice.
The labor law provides that the employment contract may indicate the first 90 days of employment as a probationary period wherein either party may terminate the contract without any liability (with one day notice period).
Originally, Articles 53 and 54 taken together limited an employee’s probation period to 90 days, with the exception that an employer who assigns an employee to different job responsibilities could place the employee on an additional 90 days probation period as long as both parties agreed in writing to such additional period.
Article 53 of Saudi labor law
Article 53 as amended states that the 90 days probation period may be extended by an additional 90 days simply with the written agreement of both parties.
The language of the amendment is poorly drafted, but it seems to require the employer and employee to come together at the end of the initial 90 days probation period and execute a separate, subsequent, additional written agreement to extend the probation period by an additional 90 days.
That is, this amendment does not appear to allow the parties to simply set the probation period at 180 days in the contract.
The probation period is exclusive of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha holidays and also sick leave (As per Article 53 Saudi Labor Law).
Article 54 of Saudi labor law
In addition to an alteration of the employee’s job responsibilities, the amended Article 54 states that the employee can be placed on an additional probation period if the “relationship between the parties has expired for a period of not less than six months,” which means that the employee can be placed on an additional probation period if/when he returns from a leave of absence of six months or more provided that both parties agree.
An employee can’t be put on probation more than once by the same employer for the same job (As per Article 54 Saudi Labor Law).
An employee can be put on probation with the same employer if the employee re-joins the same company.
If the contract is terminated, by either party, during the probation period, neither party shall be entitled to any compensation or end of service benefits.