Policy 1322
Probationary Period for Classified Employees

Date of Current Revision: June 2014
Primary Responsible Officer: Director of Human Resources


To establish the university's policy for the mandated probationary period for all classified employees.


The Board of Visitors has been authorized by the Commonwealth of Virginia to govern James Madison University. See Code of Virginia section 23-164.6; 23-9.2:3. The Board has delegated the authority to manage the university to the president.


This policy is written in keeping with Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Policy 1.45 - Probationary Period and VA Code § 2.2-2812 Employment of Personnel.


Probationary Period
The introductory period of employment that allows the employee and JMU to determine if the employee is suited for the job. During the probationary period, employees may be terminated at the pleasure of the appointing authority, without access to the State Grievance Procedure. The normal probationary period is 12 months; however, it can be extended as described in this policy for up to 18 months for performance reasons, if an employee is absent for an extended period of time, or if an employee moves to another position within the last six months of the 12-month period.

Probationary Progress Review Form
The form used to document the probationary employee’s progress through the probationary period.


This policy applies to all classified employees.


It is the university's policy to require all classified employees to satisfactorily complete a 12-month probationary period as a prerequisite to continued employment with the university.


6.1 New employment/Re-employment

Employees who are hired/re-hired into a classified position must serve a 12-month probationary period effective from the date of employment/re-employment. Employees who have completed a probationary period during their current employment, and who begin a new classified position with no break in service, are not required to serve a new probationary period unless they fall within the guidelines of 6.2 and 6.3 for positions that require a new and/or extended probationary period.

6.2 New probationary period

A person who is selected for a position that requires certification following completion of a prescribed training program must complete a new probationary period. Recruitment announcements for positions that require new probationary periods must include this requirement. Offer letters or other written employment notification also must include information about the additional probationary requirement, as appropriate.

An employee who is promoted into a higher position that requires serving another probationary period shall be offered to be returned to his/her previous position or an equivalent vacancy if the probationary period is not completed for any reason other than misconduct.

6.3 Reasons for extending the probationary period

Probationary periods may be extended for up to six additional months for performance reasons. 

Probationary periods must be extended when probationary employees are on any leave with or without pay for more than 14 consecutive calendar days. 

Leaves requiring extension of the probationary period may include:

  • Family Medical Leave
  • Leave without pay-layoff 
  • Military leave with or without pay 
  • VSDP (Virginia Sickness and Disability Program) short-term disability (STD) leave for more than 14 consecutive calendar days. Also included are periods of short-term disability where the employee is working in an “active employment” status with restrictions/modifications.
  • Workers’ Compensation 

Extensions include the first 14 days of absence, as well as those days in excess of 14, up to the date an employee returns to work. The total probationary period may not exceed 18 months, excluding periods of leave with or without pay. 

6.4 Change in position during the probationary period

When a probationary employee moves to a different position during the first 6 months of the probationary period, the remainder of the 12-month requirement must be completed. (However, the probationary period also may be extended for performance or leave reasons as described above.)

If an employee moves to a new position during the last 6 months of the probationary period, the employee's probationary period may remain as the original 12 months, or may be extended so that the new supervisor has the benefit of the full 12-month probationary period. However, the total time served in probationary status may not exceed 18 months (excluding any periods of leave that exceed 14 consecutive calendar days as described above.)

6.5 Employee Notification of Extended Probationary Period

Employees must be notified in writing on the Probationary Progress Review form if their probationary periods will be extended beyond the initial 12 months. Extensions must be approved by the reviewer.

6.6 Probationary Progress Reviews during the Probationary Period

  • At the end of 3, 6 and 9 months the supervisor should use the Probationary Progress Review form to record employee progress towards meeting established core responsibilities, special assignments and departmental values as well as make recommendations for performance improvement. 
  • The supervisor should meet with the employee at the end of 3, 6 and 9 months, and should also meet with the employee 3 weeks prior to completion of the probationary period, to discuss their progress. A rating of Contributor indicates satisfactory performance.
  • A decline in performance following a satisfactory performance review, but before completion of the probationary period, may be the basis for termination.
  • The completed Probationary Progress Review is an official form that is kept in the employee's personnel file in Human Resources.
  • The supervisor, reviewer and employee may also make recommendations for revisions to the position description in PositionLink at these intervals.

6.7 Additional Documentation of Work Performance

Documentation other than the Probationary Progress Review, such as any memoranda or an interim evaluation, is not official documentation of performance and should be kept in a confidential file separate from the employee's personnel file. 

6.8 Termination or Disciplinary Action

If the university determines at any time during the probationary period that an employee is not suited for the job and unable to improve satisfactorily, the employee should be terminated or allowed to resign at the discretion of the university. Notification of termination must be issued in writing. If notification must be made by mail, it is recommended that it be sent by certified or registered mail. Records related to termination shall reflect "unsatisfactory performance during the probationary period" or "resignation."

Probationary employees do not have access to the State Grievance Procedure to grieve a termination or disciplinary action. Any employee, including a probationary employee, who claims that termination, or other disciplinary action, was based on age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status may file a discrimination complaint with JMU’s Office of Equal Opportunity or the Department of Human Resource Management.

6.9 Completion of Probationary Period

The supervisor should meet with the probationary employee 3 weeks prior to completion of the 12-month probationary period and provide the employee with a completed Probationary Progress Review. If a probationary employee works beyond a 12-month period without being notified (1) of satisfactory completion or (2) that the probationary period was extended, the employee will be regarded as having successfully completed the probationary requirement. 

Satisfactory completion of the probationary period does not result in the employee's receiving a guarantee of continued employment, but entitles the employee to certain rights as set forth in university policies.

There are no automatic pay increases as a result of completion of the probationary period.

6.10 Merit Increases

Merit increases for probationary employees, when available, must be based on the employee’s most recent Probationary Progress Review rating. The rating must be at the Contributor level to be eligible for a performances increase, which when funded, becomes effective on November 25.


The Director of Human Resources is responsible for the consistent application of this policy. The Director of Human Resources, as well as vice presidents, deans, directors and department heads are to ensure that probationary employees are informed of this policy. In addition, vice presidents, deans, directors and department heads are responsible for their department's adherence to this policy. Questions related to the application of this policy should be directed to an HR Consultant

Supervisors are responsible for conducting effective interim performance evaluation meetings at 3, 6, 9 months, as well as 3 weeks prior to the end of the probationary period.

Human Resources is responsible for reminding supervisors that reviews are due, as well as maintaining completed probationary progress review forms.


Sanctions will be commensurate with the severity and frequency of the offense and may include termination.


This policy does not apply to wage employees, instructional, or administrative & professional faculty.


The authority to interpret this policy rests with the President, and is generally delegated to the Director of Human Resources.

Previous Version: August 2012
Approved by the President: September 2002

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