The First 90 Days

“I’ve been using 90 days as the orientation period for new employees but it really takes us about 120 days to determine if they can do the job. Is it okay to make it longer?”

Your HR Survival Tip

The introductory period for new employees isn’t set in stone at 90 days and it’s also not some magical period where anything goes. Think of it instead as a reminder to pay attention to your new employee so you can more quickly determine if you’ve hired the right person for the job. Things to remember during this period:  

  • There is no more legal protection for your company within the first 90 days than in the next 5 years. You still need to follow all the laws and have a legal reason for terminating the new employee. However, terminations do seem a bit easier if one or both of you discover this relationship isn’t working within a month or two.

  • The 90 days is merely the common period. Some positions require more or less time to determine if the person and the job are a correct match. Decide what your time might be and be sure to state it may be extended if needed.

  • If you have made the offer of higher wages or a bonus upon completion of this period, be explicit on expectations so you don’t end up paying more before you’re sure about the employee.

  • Mandatory benefits do not take into account the status of the employee so they apply to all hires. These include workers’ compensation insurance that must begin on day 1 and paid sick time that must either start accruing on day 1 or be front-loaded on or before day 90. If you are signed up with CalSavers, you need to add the new employees to the plan within 30 days of hire.

  • Your company’s group health insurance, if offered, makes all employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week eligible within 90 days. Eligible employees must be covered by day 90 even if they haven’t yet successfully completed your introductory period.

Those first few months are really critical for both you and the new employee… it’s the honeymoon period for you both. Their job is to impress you by showing they have the skills and knowledge to do the job. Your job is to ensure they have everything they need to succeed and to provide a warm welcome to your company. If you are both doing what you should, knowing if this was a great hire will be fairly obvious.

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