Boomerang Employees

First published on Thursday, May 04, 2023

Last updated on Thursday, May 18, 2023

Sometimes, a former employee might want to re-join your company.

It's always beneficial to consider rehiring boomerang employees; especially if their departure was a great loss to your workforce.

However, you must be cautious when dealing with boomerang workers. If previous employers decline these requests unfairly, it could lead to serious consequences. Like reputational damage, discrimination claims, and losing talented workers.

In this guide, we'll look at what boomerang employees means, what their legal rights are, and how to manage hiring previous employees.

What is a Boomerang Employee?

A boomerang employee is a person who previously left a job but then decides to work for the same company again.

It's not unusual to see this type of behaviour. Over time, many employees will have changed jobs to further their careers. And others may leave for personal reasons; for example, to work seasonally after becoming a new parent.

Employers should always consider taking on boomerang hires - without harbouring any hard feelings.

What are the Pros of Hiring Boomerang Employees?

When you hire former employees the right way, it can lead to a win-win situation for everyone. Especially if they were considered as a talented or likeable employee. Let's look at the pros of hiring boomerang employees:

Already aware of company culture

When previous employees return to their old job, they'll already have a sense of familiarity.

It's not just about knowing where the toilets are or which coffee-maker to avoid. A boomerang employee will have a developed awareness for your company culture, practices, and even ethics.

They'll also settle in a lot easier and faster compared to new hires. (Although this point shouldn't be held against new hires during a hiring process).

Bring new skills and perspective

When a boomerang employee comes back to a former job, they're not the same person who left the company.

They may return with a new perspective and skill-set, established whilst working at a new company or in other industries.

Former employers gain talented and investible workers- utilising new capability skills. This is especially evident if they return having worked in a similar job elsewhere, or with a rivalling company.

Boost morale and engagement

When likeable workers return to previous jobs, former colleagues will also be pleased with this decision, too.

This helps to boost morale and employee engagement, as the employee's presence creates a positive work atmosphere. Better employee engagement then leads to increased company loyalty, productivity, and reputation.

Better employee retention

When you rehire previous employees, they're more likely to be appreciative to you and the company.

They may decide to work harder and stay employed for a longer period. Over time, this contributes to better employee retention rates. This won't go unnoticed; a positive company culture and social systems will soon become synonymous with your company.

What are the Cons of Hiring Boomerang Employees?

Despite the positive points, there are certain downsides to working with past employees. Let's look at the cons of hiring boomerang employees:

Come with a flight risk

When dealing with a boomerang employee, you can't deny the flight risk they come with. It's normal for employers to worry about them leaving again; or question their company loyalty. Of course, you shouldn’t make pre-judgements, but this real risk can be hard to ignore.

It's better to acknowledge the fact that employees don't stay forever. Employers should be prepared to deal with departing workers; and the potential impacts they may leave in their wake.

Deal with previous bad habits

As you've previously worked with the employee, you may already be aware of certain habits or small annoyances they have.

Harmless habits may be easy to deal with. For example, having a stern word if they're often being a little too loud or sociable. But if they come back with unresolved issues or negative habits, it can affect other employees and your company culture.

May lead to biased decisions

As mentioned, a returning employee is not the same one you first hired. Just because you once knew them doesn't mean you should make biased decisions regarding their return.

A previous employer may think rehiring a familiar face will help save on training costs and onboarding time. But in actual fact, it could lead to selecting the wrong candidate for the job. You could even miss out on recruiting other better qualified external hires.

Make sure you follow a fair recruitment and interview process. Judge them purely based on their current talents, skills, and expertise - without skipping out on returning interview questions.

May feel privileged over others

Previous employees will already have established a connection with their previous company. Meaning, they may feel a sense of privilege or entitlement over others when they return.

They may act in ways that current employees may not be privy to. For example, a former employee takes additional breaks to smoke stating it was a previous rule. This rule isn't part of the current company rules - meaning current employees are treated differently in comparison.

Disparities like these can easily lead to bitterness, jealousy, and even bad blood. Employers are left to deal with hostile unsettlement in the workplace.

What is the Law on Hiring Former Employees?

Employers have certain legal responsibilities when it comes to hiring boomerang workers.

The most important thing to consider is hiring them in a fair and lawful manner. Your recruitment process must not discriminate against anyone - including other candidates. Discrimination is covered under the Equality Act 2010. It states a person is protected from unlawful discrimination against nine protected characteristics:

Candidates who believe they’ve faced discrimination during recruitment stages are legally allowed to raise this to an employment tribunal. If the claim is upheld, the employer may be forced to pay compensation awards for their actions.

How to Manage Boomerang Employees in the Workplace

It often makes sense to hire boomerang employees - especially talented and skilful ones.

However, employers must hire them through a fair and legal recruitment process. And they should avoid any form of biased thinking or discriminative decision-making. Let's look at ways to manage boomerang employees in the workplace:

Create a policy for hiring former employees

The first step you should take is to create a policy that covers hiring former workers. Your policy should include what the procedure is - highlighting a transparent and fair selection process.

Employers should state which employees may be eligible for rehiring. For example, those who left due to company lay-offs or expired contracts. Make sure you highlight who won't be considered; i.e., anyone dismissed due to gross misconduct (like physical assault).

Update your recruitment talent pool

Employers should think about updating their recruitment talent pool.

This allows companies to leave the door open to former employees. It's particularly helpful with keeping professional relationships with past workers - particularly with ones who are skillful or pleasant to work with.

By keeping them in talent pools, you'll be able inform them about certain jobs they could be perfect for.

Hold an introductory meeting with former employer

Despite having worked in a previous role, a boomerang employee is essentially returning to a brand-new job. That's why it's important to hold an introductory meeting with them.

This can be done by their former employer or other relevant managers. Introduce them to working practices that are currently used. Remember, it's not enough to assume they'll know from previous experience.

Managers should also introduce current work systems, like using new equipment and technologies. You should also make them aware of your business policies, standards, and ethics.

Promote employee cohesion

The last step to consider is building a solid cohesion relation between current workers and your new hires.

Your current workers shouldn't feel less valued or isolated due to the relation you have with boomerang employees. This can lead to hostility and negativity in the workplace.

Employers should also avoid any biased decision-making, too. For example, if the past employee asks for a higher salary upon their return, it should only be given based on the current wage procedure.

Can you Hire a Former Employee who was Dismissed?

Yes, employers can hire a former employee who was dismissed. This is regardless of whatever form of dismissal they faced (i.e., a summary or capability).

If the person left through a fair dismissal, their employer could choose whether to rehire them or not. However, if they previously left due to unfair dismissal, you may be forced to reinstate them to a previous or new position.

Do you need to Continue a Former Employee's Service Years after Hiring Them?

Employers aren’t legally obliged to continue a former employee’s service years after hiring them.

It all depends on if their continuity of service lasted longer than a week. A break of at least a week ending on a Saturday will usually break continuity of service but different rules apply in different circumstances.

For example, if an employee has two or more years of continuous service, they're entitled to certain statutory rights. For example, raising an unfair dismissal claim. So, it’s best to be reasonable when deciding to continue service years or not.

Get Expert Advice on Boomerang Employees with BrightHR

There are so many things to consider before rehiring returning workers. But that doesn't mean you should ignore the benefits their return brings.

Employers must follow fair recruitment procedures when hiring returning employees. If you don't, you could end up facing reputational damage, discrimination claims, and losing talented workers for good.

If you need any advice when boomerang employees, we are on hand to help. Our BrightAdvice helpline. Call our friendly and helpful HR professionals today on 0800 783 2806.

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