Q. Can you direct me toward information regarding new-employee introductory periods and what impact this may have on “at-will” classification? — Tim Hodnett, AR
A. In general, an “introductory period” for new workers does not have to affect “at will” employment status, but it can modify that status if it’s not implemented carefully.
When an employer adopts policies addressing a new worker’s introductory period, it can inadvertently affect the employee’s at-will status if the policy provides job security after the introductory period ends.
For this reason, it’s always best to use the term “introductory period” instead of “probationary period.” That’s because a “probationary” implies that once that period elapses, the employee has some greater degree of job security.
Therefore, introductory periods should be described—and implemented—as periods in which new workers will receive, say, additional training or extra feedback from supervisors.