A recent decision by the Industrial Tribunal confirmed that an agreement to extend an initial 6 month probationary period for another 3 months was valid in the case of a manager, and thus, the employer could terminate the employee for probationary reasons.

The maximum probationary period allowed under Maltese law is 6 months, however, a 12 month probationary period may be applied in case of a ‘administrative, technical, managerial and executive employees’ earning more than €16,000 (for 2014). This decision by the Industrial Tribunal confirmed a widely accepted usage in the industry where employees falling within the latter category may agree to extend their initial 6 month probationary by another period capped at 6 months up to a total of 12 months.

In Raphael Bourgeois v Eden Hospitality Limited, the ex-employee was engaged as Rooms Division Manager. His contract of employment provided for a 6 month probationary period and towards the end of that period, the employer’s management approached the ex-employee and voiced their dissatisfaction with his performance.

The ex-employee acknowledged these issues and promised to address them effectively. Both parties agreed to an extension of the probationary period by another 3 months. The management remained dissatisfied with the ex-employee’s job performance and terminated the employment for probationary reasons.

The Industrial Tribunal sanctioned the agreement between the employer and the ex-employee and held that the termination of the ex-employee was lawful and during the probationary period.

The extension of the probationary period can be a helpful tool for an employer to show its commitment towards the career development and progression of its employees. It can also complement early performance reviews at premature stages of the employment relationship.