Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

Omaha CFS Specialist Successfully Challenges Initial Probation Extension

DHHS employee and NAPE/AFSCME member Chris Malone became a state employee in February 2022 after the St. Francis Ministries outsourcing nightmare that NAPE/AFSCME had long opposed finally came to an end. Chris works with vulnerable youth in the Eastern Service Area as a Child/Family Services Specialist. Like all new employees at the State of Nebraska, Chris was placed on an original probationary period when he started his new role as a state employee.

Once state employees complete their original probation, they become permanent employees with due process protections and grievance rights. An employee’s original probation ends six months after their hire date, unless it gets extended. Article 8 of our labor contract offers employees many protections when it comes to original probation extensions. First, management may only extend an employee’s original probation for reasons of performance, transfer, promotion, or leave of absence. Next, the extension cannot exceed a total of one calendar year. Finally, the extension must be in writing and include the exact length of the extension. If the probation extension is due to performance concerns, employees have one additional right: they must be given specific performance improvement requirements. 

In August, Chris was surprised when he received a memo extending his original probation for six months. Chris received this memo on the very last day of his original probationary period. The extension came as a complete surprise to Chris, so he reached out to NAPE right away. A NAPE representative asked Chris to send a copy of the memo. After reviewing the document, the NAPE team identified that the probation extension violated Article 8 of the contract. The memo was in writing and included the specific length of the extension, but it did not give Chris any specific performance improvement requirements as the contract requires. Since the extension violated the contact, the NAPE staff filed a grievance on behalf of Chris.

After a hearing, NAPE and DHHS agreed that Chris should be removed from original probation effective immediately. This is important because it guaranteed Chris full disciplinary due process and grievance rights. The State has the right to extend an employee’s original probation period, but it must do so in accordance with the labor contract. If you know someone who has had their original probation extended, encourage them to reach out to the NAPE office right away. Remember that strict deadlines apply to grievance filing. Don’t wait, and contact us immediately if you even suspect there is a problem!

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees