As employees come and go, some employers are forced to deal with a sometimes uncomfortable situation down the road: Should they rehire an individual they fired?

Well, the million dollar question—of course—is whether or not that individual left your employ voluntarily or involuntarily. If it is the latter, then you definitely have some extra thinking to do.

The majority of employees do not try and get themselves fired from a job, at least one would hope not. Oftentimes it is due to their inability to properly do a job.

Is the past a harbinger of the future?

When an employer fires someone, it oftentimes comes with a justifiable performance reason, unless there is some kind of personal animosity between employer and employee. As most employers can vouch for, firing someone is never a fun thing. In many cases, employers will relieve someone of their duties for the betterment of the company, bringing more justification to releasing an individual.

So, let’s say you’re an employer and a position opens at your company that was formerly manned by someone you let go. Do you give them a second chance or does their name not even see the light of day for consideration?

If you give a former employee a second chance, you run the risk of:

  • Bringing resentment to the rest of the office
  • Upsetting the cart and making it difficult for other employees to do their jobs
  • Re-introducing a potential problem, even if the former employee says they’ve changed their attitude and ways about them

To many employers, the bottom line of reasoning is that they gave the former employee every chance to make a go of it with them the first time around, so what makes one think things will be different the second go around?

The majority of employers are willing to take a chance with someone fresh rather than give a second shot to an old hat, even when it means training that individual and mentoring them in the process. Yes, bringing back a former employee can make things easier in the sense that they know the routine, but what is the collateral damage that they would bring with them and is it worth it?

As an employer, it is important for you to look at what led to that employee being let go in the first place. Among the issues can be:

  • Personal issue with a co-worker and/or manager
  • Inability to properly perform a job and/or follow instructions
  • Being habitually late for and/or missing substantial periods of work
  • Stealing from an employer

The bottom line is that firing someone is never easy; you run the risk of a lawsuit, a bad company reputation, and more.

If you end up firing an employee, think long and hard about bringing them back. Remember, there is a reason you fired that individual in the first place.

AvatarDave Thomas

With 23 years’ writing experience, Dave Thomas covers business topics for a variety of websites.