Rehiring Former Employees

  • Recruitment
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Employers have mixed opinions when it comes to rehiring former employees.

Maybe you love that a well-liked employee wishes to return. Or maybe you'd rather not have to work with a certain individual again.

Rehiring former employees comes with certain procedures you need to follow. If you ignore them, you could end up facing detrimental costs for your business.

In this guide, we'll look at what rehiring former employees means, what the law states, and how to rehire them in the best way.

What does rehiring former employees mean?

Rehiring former employees is when you recruit individuals that previously worked for your business. These people are also known as ‘boomerang employees’.

It's not uncommon for a former employee to return to the same company they once left. Maybe they wanted to seek further employment opportunities. Or were made redundant due to the company's financial situation.

Depending on each case, bringing them back can be a great hiring decision. Especially if they're talented professionals with great skills and a positive attitude.

What are the benefits of rehiring former employees?

When you decide to rehire a former employee, there are significant benefits your business can gain. Let's look at the benefits:

Easier settling-in period

A former employee will already be familiar with things like basic rules or job duties. So, they'll settle in easier compared to a brand-new hire.

It's also cost-efficient as you won't need to spend a lot of money or resources helping them adapt to the company culture. And if the former employee contacted you, it can also save on hiring costs.

Bring new skills and experiences

When a boomerang employee returns to your business, they bring all kinds of new skills and experiences.

Working at a different company will develop their capability which benefits your business too. Especially if they bring industry-specific knowledge from a rival company.

Boost company morale

Professionals, in any industry, often make good acquaintances with other employees.

When you rehire a former 'well-liked' employee, it helps reconnect work friends and grow the employee's mood in a positive way.

Your business's reputation also grows positively, too. It becomes known as a place that values employee morale, loyalty, and engagement.

Higher retention rate

When you rehire a former employee, they're more likely to stay for a longer time.

That's because they'll respect and value being accepted to work at your business again. From this, recruitment management professionals will notice higher levels of staff retention.

Former employees will acknowledge your business as a great place to work. And this leads to them being more proactive and productive than they were before.

What are the downsides of rehiring former employees?

Whilst there are benefits, you can't afford to ignore the disadvantages of rehiring professionals. Let's look at the downsides:

Could decide to leave again

There's an air of doubt and uncertainty around an employee when they decide to leave their job.

Some employers will avoid hiring former employees, as they could decide to leave again. There's no way to prepare for this, it's just a risk you'll have to face. It falls on you to get the best out of the employee and grow them professionally.

Feelings of entitlement

When you rehire a former employee, you've already established a work relation with them. (This is something that can disadvantage new hires during recruitment stages).

Some former employees will exploit this relationship - with or without intention. They might feel like they have some kind of entitlement or authority over others. For example, they might think they should be paid more than your competitive pay rate.

This can easily cause workplace conflicts and negative environments between current employees.

Not the most suitable candidate

Some employers might hire an old employee, as it'll help their company save time during recruitment processes.

This kind of conduct leads to biased decision-making, and you could risk losing equally-qualified candidates.

It doesn't matter if the old employee is already accustomed to your company culture or has completed your minimal training period. Employers should think about hiring the best person for the job.

Past issues could resurface

Sometimes, a former employee may decide to leave on bad terms. So, you'll need to consider this before rehiring a former employee.

If these issues are left unresolved, they could resurface when you least expect them. Any employee affected by bad work environments may decide to leave themselves.

What is the law on rehiring a former employee?

There is no specific law on rehiring a former employee. However, there are certain employment rights you need to consider before they start working with you again.

Continuous service

The longer an employee works for you, the larger their continuous service is. This measure is often used for all kinds of work conditions. For example, when an employee requests parental leave or wants to raise unfair dismissal claims.

When an employee leaves, their continuous service comes to an end. This is regardless of whether they leave due to their own choice or not. If the employee returns, you can decide whether to continue their service or start again, like a new employee.

Types of job termination

The way an employee left their job can have a direct impact on your rehiring process.

If the employee was fairly dismissed, employers have no legal obligation to rehire them. (That is unless rehiring was enforced by a tribunal).

If the employee was made redundant for issues beyond their control (like business restructures), you should try to offer suitable alternative employment. Their service should also be continued within their new role.

If the employee resigned, employers have no legal obligation to rehire them. If their resignation request is withdrawn or the company doesn’t accept the resignation, their service should continue.

How to manage a rehiring process for former employees

Businesses or hiring managers can gain many opportunities from 'boomerang employees'.

Employers need to make sure they follow a fair and legal hiring process. That way, you'll be able to rehire skillful and conscientious employees (which can be difficult in today's competitive hiring environment).

Let's look at ways to manage a rehiring process for former employees:

Update your talent pool

The first step you should take is updating your talent pool.

If you were impressed by past employees, add them to your own talent pool. Keep them updated on recruitment opportunities and business developments. This will help your hiring manager and the professional reconnect with ease.

Your talent pool should include past employees including part-time workers, freelancers, or just memorable individuals. And because you already have the professional's contact information, it helps you save on additional recruitment costs.

Present a policy on rehiring employees

Every business should have a legally-vetted policy that covers rehiring employees.

Your policy should outline basic rules and clear expectations on rehiring. For example, some companies forbid hiring anyone who faced dismissal due to criminal charges.

Many company policies on rehiring are open to employees who left their job due to:

  • Voluntary resignation.
  • Company lay-offs
  • Expired contracts.
  • Business restructures.

Conduct interviews before you rehire employees

The next step to take is conducting interviews before rehiring anyone.

Employers shouldn't avoid this crucial step; as this can save them from facing detriment in the future. A rehiring interview process allows employers to:

  • Understand why the employee left in the first place (and see if these reasons still exist)
  • Treat them fairly, just like they would with any other new hire.
  • Set their standards and expectations from all employees.

Make them familiar with company culture and practices

If you've decided to rehire a former employee, you need to familiarise them with your company.

Former employees will only know work methods from their past. So, it's best to re-introduce them to new changes, cultures, or practices. Employers should make them familiar with:

  • New systems, technologies, and training programs.
  • Any changes to office policies and practices.
  • Business standards, ethics, and cultures.

Employers may choose to add these terms to their existing onboarding process. That way, it becomes a fair process, especially when hiring former and brand-new employees.

Promote overall employee cohesion

The most important thing to consider is promoting overall employee cohesion.

Employers must think about bringing together their current and former employees. That way, you'll be able to promote cohesiveness, and minimise any hostility.

It's also important to avoid any favouritism or bias behaviour with a former employee. Make sure you discuss expectations, salary, and work benefits with them. And reach a mutual agreement that's fair in comparison to current employees within your company.

Get expert advice on rehiring former employees with Peninsula

There are all sorts of things to consider when hiring 'boomerang employees'. Employers should think about what values and assets former employees can bring to their business today.

If you decide to rehire employees, make sure you follow proper procedures. If you don't, you could end up facing detrimental costs for your business.

Peninsula offers expert advice on rehiring a former employee. Our HR team offers 24/7 HR employment advice which is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Seek advice from one of our HR consultants. For further support, call our telephone number 0800 051 3629

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