Can You Rehire A Fired Employee? - The Full Guide

Hiring and firing is something that happens in every workplace. Most of the time, people who are hired eventually leave, and when someone is fired, they typically don’t return to the company. 

However, in some cases, an employee might be fired from a company and then rehired after a certain period of time. Sometimes, this is part of a process called ‘fire and rehire’, but there are other situations in which an employee might be fired and then hired again later without it being planned from the start. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at whether the planned ‘fire and rehire’ process is a good idea and where you can, generally speaking, fire an employee before rehiring them down the line. 

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What is Fire and Rehire (And Is It Allowed?)

Fire and rehire is a process otherwise known as ‘dismissal and re-engagement’. It’s a legal process in the sense that there’s nothing written in law to stop employers from doing it, but if you’re considering firing and rehiring employees on a planned basis, you should know that a lot of people consider this to be unethical. 

Basically, fire and rehire or dismissal and re-engagement is a process that starts when employers change the terms and conditions outlined in an employee’s contract. 

Understandably, some employees will object to this because the changes may mean the job is no longer what they signed up for. In this case, employers sometimes fire the employees who refuse to accept the change of terms and then rehire them. The rehiring is usually on less favorable terms, which is part of the reason why many people have a problem with the practice. 

If you’re an employer and you’re considering firing and rehiring in an effort to make changes to employee contracts, we recommend thinking twice. You might not get in trouble with the law, but now that the practice is becoming more well known and some instances of it have made news headlines, people are likely to look unfavorably on your company if you do this. In fact, many people say they would be less likely to purchase products or services from a company that practiced fire and rehire.

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Should You Rehire an Employee After Firing Them?

There may be cases where, as an employer, you consider rehiring an employee after firing them outside of the standard ‘fire and rehire’.

Here are some reasons why you might be considering rehiring an employee after firing them: 


  1. Issues in an Employee’s Personal Life 

Sometimes, employees go through hard times in their personal lives, which can impact the quality of their work. 

While most employers will be reasonable in such situations and provide support during a period of time, there can come a point where the diminished quality and/or speed of the employee’s work starts to negatively impact the company in a significant way. This ultimately becomes unsustainable and, sometimes, employers feel they have no other option but to let that person go, even though it’s an awful situation for everyone. 

However, if that employee chooses to re-apply for their old role or another role within the company later down the line, you might consider re-hiring that employee. If the dip in their work performance or attendance seemed to be entirely situational and they appear to be in a better place, this seems like a good reason to rehire an employee you previously fired. 

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  1. Applying for a Different Role 

We can’t all be good at everything, and sometimes, even when an employee seems cut out for a specific role on paper, they may not be able to perform well in the workplace. If you don’t have a more suitable role available for an employee who is struggling in their current role, you might need to let them go. 

However, if that employee applies for a different role in your company at a later point, it makes sense to consider rehiring them if you think they’ll be better suited to that role. After all, you will have had personal experience of how they function in the workplace, so you’ll have a sense of whether the new role they’re applying for would work better with their skill set. 

For example, say an employee used to work for your company in a sales position. However, they weren’t able to fulfill their role because they struggled to interact with customers and became too overwhelmed. Now they’re applying for a position in administration, which is not customer-facing. You know that while they struggled with customer interactions, they were always organized and took their job seriously. This could be a situation where you rehire someone after firing them, just not in the same role. 

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  1. The Employee Has Learned and Grown 

We all make mistakes in life, and we all have the potential to grow from them. Maybe an employee made a huge mistake previously and you had to fire them for it, but if they apply for another position and provide a cover letter acknowledging how they have grown from this experience, you might consider hiring them again

This is a decision that should not be taken lightly, and you might want to prepare for other employees having strong opinions about your decision if you do choose to rehire that person. However, if you genuinely think it’s appropriate and a good decision for your business, there is nothing stopping you from hiring an employee you previously fired.

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Final Thoughts 

There are a few different situations where you might want to rehire an employee after firing them. One is ‘fire and rehire’, which is not illegal but is generally frowned upon. We don’t recommend doing this. 

Other situations where rehiring after firing may be appropriate include where someone was previously fired due to (now resolved) personal issues that were impacting their work performance, or where someone has clearly learned from an experience that got them fired. Additionally, if an ex-employee is applying for a different position that you think would suit them better, you can rehire them if you feel it’s appropriate.

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