MYTH: Fire an Employee During Probationary Period to Avoid Unemployment Liability

A common assumption among employers is that having a probationary period at the beginning of employment provides a safe-guard in terms of unemployment.  For example, a company might have a 90 day probationary period for all new hires.  A manager’s assumption is that they can terminate an employee during that 90 day window and the employee would be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because they are still a “probationary” employee.

This is not the case.

Unemployment agencies do not recognize probationary periods as a valid reason for disqualification of benefits.  So you should still follow all steps to ensure proper documentation prior to termination if you hope to avoid unemployment charges for this worker.

The Michigan Unemployment Agency states: “Even if an employee is temporary or seasonal, or working during a probationary or training period, his or her services are probably covered by unemployment insurance.  But employees who are covered by unemployment insurance will be entitled to unemployment benefits only if they earn enough wages, properly file a claim, and meet all other eligibility requirements.”

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