Are you considering dismissing a ship worker during their trial period?

A trial period gives you as an employer a good opportunity to test whether the ship worker you have hired is the right candidate. A trial period also involves pitfalls that you must be aware of, says Partner Maria Elena Kvalen at SANDS Advokatfirma. This applies in particular if you are considering dismissing a ship worker during their trial period.

The Ship Labour Act gives ship workers strong protection against dismissals. Ship workers during their trial period have somewhat weaker protection against dismissal, but you must have done a good deal of preparatory work before you decide on dismissal.

It is crucial that the employee has received necessary and sufficient training and follow-up, and that this is documented, emphasises Kvalen.

Opportunities to evaluate skill and reliability

Section 5-5 of the Ship Labour Act gives the employer the opportunity to dismiss the ship worker during their trial period if the ship worker does not show satisfactory adaptation to the work, professional skill or reliability during the trial period.

In that case, such dismissal must be notified to the employee before the end of the trial period. If not, the ordinary employment protection rules apply.

The employer’s responsibility during the trial period

Before you, as employer, decide on dismissal during the trial period, it is a prerequisite that you provide the ship worker with necessary and sufficient training and follow-up. The employee must receive a thorough introduction to the work tasks, so that he or she has a real opportunity to succeed before a potential dismissal, Kvalen points out.

Document training and follow-up

If, as employer, you are considering dismissing an employee during their trial period, you must ensure that you can demonstrate that the new employee has received necessary training and follow-up. How far the employer’s training and follow-up obligation goes will depend on the individual ship worker’s education and experience.


Follow-up meetings should be held regularly. Make sure to prepare written minutes of these meetings. This way, you can document the process.

Did you know?

  • An agreement on a trial period must be in writing to be valid.
  • A trial period can only be agreed for a period of up to 6 months.
  • The statutory notice period for trial periods is only 14 days.


Companies with operations linked to the sea and the ocean have in common that they need advice in a number of legal fields. Many law firms can offer this. SANDS can also offer something more. With offices in six of the largest coastal cities, we know the industries from the inside. We know both the challenges and issues that the marine industry faces, and what room for action exists within the regulations.

Contact one of our specialists within your industry for a conversation about how we can assist you.