Probationary Periods

I-2021-33


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Sept. 7, 2021 When Superseded 2   8   14  

Overview

Employees in the Career Service and the Educational Service in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education serve at least a one-year probationary period upon first appointment to the District government. The probationary period serves as a critical extension of the talent acquisition process and gives managers and new employees an opportunity to decide if the new employment partnership meets their respective needs. Through this issuance, we explain probationary periods and provide guidance on probationary requirements, discontinuing probation,serving new probationary periods, and increasing the probationary period for unique jobs. 


Probation

Probation offers the agency and employee the opportunity to determine a candidate’s job readiness. Probationary periods aid in deciding whether an employee’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and conduct meet the requirements for permanent employment status in the Career Service.  

For most jobs, the probationary period is one year. However, for some positions at the Department of Corrections, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, Metropolitan Police Department, and the Office of Unified Communications, the probationary period is 18 months. In addition, agencies may ask the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR) to establish longer probationary periods for classes of jobs, when a lengthier assessment period is needed. 

When a probationary employee shows their readiness for permanent appointment, and the probationary period ends, an employee will transition into a permanent Career Service status. Probationary employees in the Educational Service who have satisfied their probationary period serve without job tenure and may be separated for any reason or no reason at all, provided certain conditions are met. Conversely, when a manager observes that an employee is not suitable for the job, the probation must be terminated and the employee separated from service.  


Position Readiness

Managers and supervisors must evaluate probationary employees using the District’s performance management program. This program provides a consistent and objective District-wide evaluation system for measuring employees’ performance. A Performance Plan shall be provided to each probationary employee, on which the probationer shall be evaluated and a mid-year progress discussion must occur. Evaluations are made based on identified and communicated work goals that benefit an employee’s unit, agency, and the District’s residents. An acceptable performance rating during a probationary period in and of itself does not constitute passing of the probationary period or automatic movement to a permanent status.


Probationary Period

The probationary period is an assessment timeframe that is generally 12 months long. However, some positions require a probationary period of 18 months. These positions include: 

  • Department of Corrections correctional officer positions 

  • Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services youth development representative positions 

  • Fire and Emergency Medical Services’ entry-level Firefighter/EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics positions 

  • Metropolitan Police Department entry-level police officer positions 

  • Office of Unified Communications emergency and non-emergency operations positions, including telephone equipment operators, customer service representatives, and dispatchers 

Generally, all workdays and non-workdays while on probation count toward the completion of the probationary period. For example, in a two-week period where an employee uses annual leave earnings for three workdays and is off for four non-workdays (weekends) within the pay period, the employee will still have completed 14 days of probation. 

However, some paid and unpaid leave does not count toward the probationary period and the hiring authority shall add these days to the original anticipated probation period end date. These periods of paid and unpaid leave include: any non-paid workdays (Leave Without Pay and Absence Without Official Leave); paid leave in excess of ten consecutive workdays; paid family leave; or administrative leave provided prior to termination unless the termination is reversed. 

NOTE: The time credited for uniformed MPD and FEMS employees differs from other Career Service employees. For details on probationary periods for uniformed members of these agencies, please refer to Chapter 8, Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services Employees


Ending Probation

The probationary period ends with either a successful conversion or a termination. 

Successful Conversion 

Successful conversion permits the employee to transition from a probationary status to a permanent Career Service status within the agency. Separation of a Career Service employee thereafter requires an agency to utilize the District’s progressive discipline system found in Chapter 16 of the District personnel regulations. 

Educational Service employees who successfully complete probation serve without job tenure and may be separated for any reason, or no reason at all. However, if an Educational Service employee is to be separated after completing a probationary period, the employee must receive at least a 15-day advanced notice of the separation, and must have received at least one performance evaluation, either in writing or verbally, at least 30 days prior to and no longer than six months before the separation. 

Terminations 

When an employee fails to meet performance standards during the probationary period, the agency must terminate the employment, using the provided sample letter (Attachment 1). 


Extending Probationary Periods for Specific Jobs

An assessment period of one year may not be effective for all jobs. Agencies may request approval from the Director of the Department of Human Resources (DCHR) for a longer probationary period for certain classes of positions. Agencies must submit written requests, using the provided sample memorandum (Attachment 2), to: dchr.classifications@dc.gov. The request’s explanation must reference factors or conditions that would warrant a longer probationary period which include, but are not limited to, a need to provide formalized classroom or field training, use of a standardized training evaluation system, or a need to complete courses or training necessary for receiving certification(s). 

DCHR will publish online approved extensions for time beyond one year. 


New Probationary Periods

While employees typically must serve one probationary period, an employee may be required to serve a new probationary period when they move to a new, specialized position. These movements include: 

  1. Applications for and appointment from a register to a uniformed position in the Metropolitan Police Department or the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department; 

  1. Appointment to a position, through open competition, with a different educational requirement; and 

  1. Appointment to a position, through open competition, with a different license, certification, or similar requirement. 

Additionally, employees will need to serve a new probationary period when an appointment is affected with a break in service of three days or more. 


Applicability

The provisions of this issuance apply only to candidates and employees for or in the Career Service, and to individuals appointed, or reappointed, to a position within the Educational Service in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Further, this issuance only applies to uniformed fire, police, or emergency medical services employees as specifically described.  

Where a specific provision of a labor agreement cannot be reconciled with a specific provision of this issuance, the labor agreement shall control with respect to that provision. 


References

For additional information on Probationary Periods, please, refer to the following items:  

  1. Probationary Periods for Career Service Employees, 6-B DCMR § 223-227 (2021) 

  1. Probationary Periods for OSSE Educational Service Employees, 6-B DCMR § 240 (2021) 

  1. Probationary Periods for Firefighter/EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics, 6-B DCMR § 870 (2009) 

  1. Probationary Periods for Police Officers, 6-B DCMR § 873 (2009) 

  1. Performance Management for Probationary Employees, 6-B DCMR §§ 14091416 (2009) 


Attachments

  1. Sample Letter - Termination During Probationary Period
  2. Memo - Request for Extending Probation for Certain Positions

Issued by Director Ventris C. Gibson, D.C. Department of Human Resources on Sept. 7, 2021, 8:22 a.m.