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The probationary period should be used to determine an employee’s fitness
for continued employment in the federal government. Generally, the
probationary period is the first year of service for an employee in the
competitive service; however it is not quite that simple. It is the first
year of service of an individual in the competitive service that is given a
career or career-conditional appointment when the employee was either
appointed from a competitive list of eligibles or was reinstated, unless the
reinstated employee previously completed a probationary period or served
with competitive status under an appointment that did not require a
A probationary employee has limited rights when appealing a termination
to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The right to appeal a removal
during a probationary period to the Board will depend on whether an employee
meets the definition of an “employee” under the law and whether he/she meets
the requirements of any OPM regulation that grants additional appeal rights.
Whether someone is an “employee” with appeal rights will depend in part on
whether he/she is in the competitive service or the excepted service. This
information can be found on the employee’s Standard Form 50. Generally, a
probationary employee is excluded from the definition of “employee” in the
competitive service and excepted service. Case law helps guide how a
termination during the probationary period is handled.