In the realm of labor law, the concept of probationary employment presents a balanced approach to address the interests of both employers and employees. Croatian Labor Law, as revised in recent years, outlines specific regulations governing the termination of employment during this period.

Futhermore, Croatian labor law, governed by the Labor Act (“Official Gazette” nr. 93/14, 127/17, 98/19, 151/22, 64/23; hereinafter referred to as the: ZOR), provides a nuanced framework for probationary work, striking a balance between employee rights and employer needs.

Understanding Probationary Period

According to Article 53 of the ZOR, employers have the option to include a probationary period in employment contracts, limited to a maximum of six months. This period serves as a critical phase for employers to assess the employee’s competencies and suitability for the role. Conversely, it allows employees to familiarize themselves with the job requirements and working conditions.

This period is not just a test of technical skills and professional expertise but also evaluates the employee’s work ethic, adaptability, and discipline. The intention is to provide employers with a streamlined process for terminating employment if the employee fails to meet the expected criteria during this probationary phase.

Also, to understand this institute, it must be clear that pursuant to the ZOR and the Croatian judicial practice, the employer is entitled to terminate the employee’s employment contract even before the end of the contracted probationary period, so it is not required for the employer to wait until the end of the entire agreed probationary period, but it can be made at any time during the period of the agreed probationary period.

Legal Provisions and Employer Safeguards

The ZOR, particularly Article 53, stipulates specific provisions concerning probationary work. One significant aspect is that decisions regarding termination due to unsatisfactory performance during probation are exempt from certain standard termination procedures. However, requirements regarding the format, reasoning, and delivery of termination notices, as well as the commencement of the notice period and judicial termination, remain applicable.

Legal Framework for Probationary Employment Termination

Croatian Labor Law permits employers to terminate an employment contract during the probationary period under certain conditions. These conditions are primarily focused on maintaining procedural fairness and transparency.

Key Provisions:

Written Form and Justification: The law mandates that any termination during the probation period must be in written form, accompanied by a written justification. This requirement ensures transparency in the termination process.

Minimum Notice Period: The law stipulates a minimum notice period of seven days for termination during the probationary period, offering a brief but crucial time frame for the employee to prepare for the employment cessation.

Regulatory Evolution: The introduction of these specific provisions marks a significant shift from the previous legal framework, aligning with the evolving labor market and employment practices in Croatia.

However, this minimum notice period of at least seven days, can be extended based on collective agreements, internal work regulations, agreements between workers’ councils and employers, or the employment contract itself.

Recent changes regarding the probationary period in the new Croatian ZOR

The institute of probationary period underwent major changes, so the possibility of extending the period of probationary period in the case of a justified absence from work of the employee is prescribed, in proportion to the duration of the absence, so that the total duration of probationary period before and after its termination cannot be longer than six months.  Although it is not explicitly prescribed by the ZOR, the competent ministry, respectively Croatian Ministry of Labor, considers that, if the employment contract stipulates in advance that the duration of the probationary period can be extended in case of justified absence of the employee, then the probationary period is extended by itself.

However, if the possibility of extension was not foreseen in advance, in that case, according to the Ministry of Labor, the consent of both parties is required for the extension of the probationary period, by concluding an annex to the employment contract.

Furthermore, in order to protect employees from possible abuse of that institute, the impossibility of contracting probationary period  in the case of concluding an employment contract that the employer offered to the employee when terminating the employment contract with the offer of an amended contract is prescribed, as well as the impossibility of re-contracting probationary period in the case of concluding a new employment contract for the performance of the same jobs.

However, it is possible to re-contract probationary period with the same employee if a new employment contract is concluded or the existing one is changed in order to perform other jobs.

Judicial Interpretations

Croatian judicial practice has been consistent in supporting the employer’s right to terminate an employment contract during or at the end of the probationary period. The Supreme Court of Croatia has clarified that an employer’s determination that an employee has not met the expected work criteria during probation is a valid reason for termination, as long as such termination is not discriminatory or in bad faith. Furthemorem, the Supreme Court of Croatia has stated that the employer is exclusively authorized to assess the employee’s working abilities, which follows from the aforementioned provisions. In other words, the court is not authorized to review the employer’s assessment of the employee’s ability to work, which is clearly reflected in the Decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, Revr 889/17 from 19th of December 2017.

Future Perspectives

Looking ahead, it is essential to monitor how these legal provisions impact labor practices in Croatia and whether further amendments will be required to adapt to changing employment landscapes. The ongoing dialogue between employers, employees, and legal experts will be crucial in shaping a fair and efficient labor market.


The probationary employment framework in Croatian labor law reflects an understanding of the practical needs of employers while maintaining safeguards against potential abuses. This legal structure ensures that employers can make informed decisions about an employee’s long-term role in their organization without being bound to continue employment if the employee is not a suitable fit. However, it also mandates that any termination process adheres to prescribed legal norms, ensuring fairness and transparency. As employment practices continue to evolve, these regulations represent a critical aspect of the Croatian labor market, influencing the dynamics of the employer-employee relationship.


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