Beginning in November, the probationary period for new civilian hires will be two years instead of one year, the Department of Defense announced this week.

In a memorandum to DoD human resources directors, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civilian Personnel Policy Julie Blanks said the change would affect personnel appointed to permanent positions in competitive service and SES appointments from November 26, 2015 forward.  The change was required in Sec. 1105 of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

The policy change is necessary, DoD said, because one year may not be enough time to judge the performance of new employees, in the “increasingly complex nature” of DoD’s work.  “The longer probationary period offers employees a greater opportunity to showcase their talents and for supervisor’s to properly asses their capabilities,” a DoD spokesperson said.

The new policy does not apply to personnel appointed prior to November 26, 2015 and those appointed in excepted service, a DOD spokesperson said.

The policy memorandum notes that DoD and the military services do have the discretion to extend a probationary period beyond two years.  The policy for this discretionary extension is being prepared.

The two-year probationary period policy does not change the one-year probationary period for supervisors, DoD said.  New employees appointed to a supervisory period will serve the one-year probationary period and the one-year supervisory probationary period concurrently. 

A person transferring from another agency to DoD who has completed a probationary period in competitive service (and has full appeal rights under the Merit Systems Protection Board) does not have to serve another probationary period, DoD said.  However, a person who transfers from another government agency and receives a career SES appointment in DoD after November 26, 2015 will serve a two-year probationary period.

A person who transfers from another agency into DoD who has not completed a probationary period could be required to complete a new probationary period, with possible credit for receive credit for prior probationary service.