Would You Rehire a Fired Employee?

The Answer to the Question Is Situational

Fired employee excluded from circle of employees
Would You Rehire a Fired Employee?. Echo/Cultura/Getty Images

Reader Question:

"I am looking for your point of view on trends from the employers' perspective to rehire someone whom they fired. Do you have any posts or details on this subject?

"Specifically, are employers concerned that there would be resentment on the employees' part, the psychological aspect of it? The internal politics with employees and how the employer would be 'viewed' rehiring a fired employee?

Is this a problem? I am based in Shanghai, China and finding HR experts is tough."

Human Resources Response:

I would not rehire someone I have fired. This is because I follow all of my recommended steps before I fire an employee. That means that the former employee had every opportunity to improve or change:  management coaching, disciplinary warnings, and serious discussions that included the HR manager.

The employee did not improve or change and so, he or she is not suitable for my organization.

People don't change that much. If you are prepared to overlook the reasons why you fired the individual in the first place, the same reasons won't go away but, possibly, the firing was not totally justified. 

Readers Responded

Other readers suggested that people can change if they are given a second opportunity. They also pointed out that an individual can be going through a tough time in their lives, a divorce, for example.

Once the problem was resolved, the person might have had the ability and interest to become a contributing employee.

Other readers suggested that a fired employee may have successfully worked at his or her next job and grown to know more about his or her needs and ability to contribute. Others suggested that more experience or a completed degree might also sway their decision to rehire the person.

Additionally, my readers cited scarce skills and experience as another reason to consider rehiring an employee you had fired. If you are having difficulty filling a position, and you know the former employee can do the job, you may want to provide a second chance. (You would need to review with the employee the factors that led to his or her first job termination and state that you need different performance this time.)

Situational Decision Making

To a degree, you can examine the individual circumstances of the person's prior non-performance to determine if something in the situation has changed for the better. Looking at each fired employee who attempts to become your employee again as an individual and making judgment calls, does open your company for possible complaints.

A policy, that you consistently follow, on what types of rehires you allow, is as important as treating current employees consistently. Otherwise, you can leave your company open to charges of discrimination.

This is why many employers have policies related to rehiring a fired employee and other considerations in making a hiring decision.

Employee Reaction

To answer the second part of the reader's question, yes, there will be anger and resentment and the other employees will question management's judgment if you rehire someone you fired. These are also employees who worked with the person before he or she was fired.

Depending on how verbal the individual was, the termination process may have affected all coworkers. The coworkers may also have been hurt by the individual's earlier non-performance. They may not be as willing or ready to take new factors into consideration.

But, mostly, the reasons for which you fired the person have usually not gone away. Understand that the laws and other considerations in your region may be different.

I am not aware of trends or research on this topic. But, except under extremely unusual circumstances,  I don't believe employers should rehire an employee who was earlier fired.

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