How to create an employee rehiring policy (And what to be aware of)

How to create an employee rehiring policy (And what to be aware of)

Though recruiters and interviewers may use their best judgment to select suitable candidates, there's no way of being certain of an employee's capabilities until they begin working. In some cases, your new hire may prove to be an excellent team contributor. In others, you could end up with misaligned personnel who aren't interested in long-term development.

One safeguard against such uncertainties is to rehire former employees. Because they've worked for you before, you know their talents and have a record of their performance. Of course, not all past employees make good rehires, and special considerations may be necessary to attract and retain the most promising candidates. That's why it's important to have a systematic method for defining and pursuing rehires for your organization. 

Let's discuss what a rehiring policy is, learn how to create one, and examine other factors to ensure that you have a sound policy in place.

What is a rehiring policy, and why should you have one?

A rehiring policy is a document that lays out the guidelines for recruiting and hiring former employees. Rehiring makes sense when a talented employee was terminated for reasons unrelated to their performance or behavior, as with layoffs or contract expirations.

Rehiring benefits employers by simplifying the hiring process while saving time and money. Knowing the candidate's qualifications already, the company can spend less time on the recruitment process, which can cost over $4,700 per new hire. Instead, it can target specific candidates with the knowledge that they are good candidates for the roles it has in mind. Also, because rehires already know the general way of doing things at the company, there's less need to dedicate resources to training and onboarding.

These advantages, though, often hinge on whether the hiring organization understands the criteria for recruitment and selection. It's the role of the rehiring policy to specify all of that. At the very least, it lays out the characteristics of eligible candidates, describes the steps that human resources must take, and clarifies variables related to the rehire's employment status. 

"At the very least, [a rehiring policy] lays out the characteristics of eligible candidates, describes the steps that human resources must take, and clarifies variables related to the rehire's employment status." 

How to create a rehiring policy for your organization

Follow these steps to create a sound rehiring policy for your organization:

1. Describe the purpose of the policy

In two to four sentences, summarize the contents of the policy as a whole — a general description of hiring targets and the topics covered in the following sections. This introductory section is important because it serves as a quick reference. When consulting the policy, hiring authorities can easily determine how it differs from other company regulations and whether it's relevant to their objectives. 

2. Define eligible and ineligible candidates

The second section describes the types of employees who qualify for rehire. Usually, employers limit their eligible candidates to those who left the company under circumstances unrelated to poor work performance or inappropriate behavior, such as:

  • Layoffs
  • Contract expirations
  • Voluntary resignations

3. Define ineligible candidates

In a separate section, identify the types of employees who do not qualify for rehire. Most employers disqualify candidates who are unreliable, incapable of fulfilling their role, or unfit for the company culture. Often, a status of ineligibility is due to one or more of these circumstances:

  • Less-than-satisfactory performance
  • Violations of company policies
  • Illegal, unethical, or otherwise inappropriate behavior
  • Job abandonment
  • Refusal to report to work on the first day

4. Define the employment statuses for rehired employees

This section specifies the classification statuses of rehired employees, which determine the benefits they receive and the procedures they must undergo. Employers commonly separate eligible employees into three categories:

  • Those who've been with the company for less than a year
  • Those who've been with the company for more than a year
  • Those who've been away from the company for at least a certain number of years

How you classify employees depends entirely on your company's discretion. For example, your organization might classify employees in categories one and three as new hires, whereas those in category two are considered senior employees.

5. Outline the rehiring process

This final section of the rehiring policy spells out the actual rehiring process itself. In a proactive process, in which the organization initiates contact, you may want to include the following steps:

  • Reviewing personnel records
  • Identifying candidates who meet eligibility criteria
  • Assessing suitability for particular roles
  • Designating potential roles to candidates
  • Contacting candidates about their interest in designated roles
  • Interviewing candidates to confirm their interest and qualifications

In a passive process, in which a boomerang employee applies for a job of their own volition, only the review, assessment, and interview portions are strictly necessary. However, should your organization identify other roles for which the candidate is suitable, you might consider offering those positions to them.

Things to be aware of when you create a rehiring policy

Consider the following variables when you're writing your organization's rehiring policy:

  • There may be exceptions to ineligibility. Sometimes, special circumstances cast new light on the conditions of an employee's dismissal. If it would benefit your organization to reevaluate a candidate's eligibility status, incorporate the relevant exceptions into your policy.
  • It's best to include an interview in the rehiring process. While you may be sure of the candidate's qualifications, you may not know their personal and professional development since you last worked with them. It could be that they're now overqualified for the position or are no longer a good fit for the company culture.
  • Sometimes, it's best to hire a new candidate. That's usually the case for entirely new positions that require special skills or expertise. Given the novelty of the role, it's unlikely that you've had personnel that meet the criteria for it.

Rehiring policy template

Use this template to guide you as you write your organization's rehiring policy:

Employee Rehiring Policy for [Company Name]


The following policy outlines the criteria and processes for rehiring former employees who have left [Company Name] for reasons unrelated to their performance or behavior. This policy shall also address the conditions of candidate eligibility and the employment statuses of returning employees.

What candidates are eligible for rehire?

Candidates who left [Company Name] for any of the following reasons are eligible for rehire, provided a record of satisfactory performance: 

  • [Reason 1]
  • [Reason 2]
  • [Reason 3]

What candidates are not eligible for rehire?

Though exceptions may apply, candidates who left [Company Name] for any of the following reasons are generally ineligible for rehire:

  • [Reason 1]
  • [Reason 2]
  • [Reason 3]
  • [Reason 4]
  • [Reason 5]

Employment statuses for rehired employees

  • Candidates who worked at [Company Name] for less than [#] months shall be classified as new hires. [Describe the extent and nature of the training they must undergo under this classification, as well as the benefits for which they're eligible.]
  • Candidates who worked at [Company Name] for more than [#] months shall be recognized for their seniority. [Describe what this means in terms of the training they will or will not undergo, as well as the benefits for which they're eligible.]
  • Candidates who have been away from [Company Name] for greater than [#] years shall be considered new hires and are subject to the conditions that apply to such classification. 

Employee rehiring process

The hiring authorities at [Company Name] shall adhere to the following procedure to recruit rehirable candidates in an active recruitment process:

  1. [Step 1]
  2. [Step 2]
  3. [Step 3]
  4. [Step 4]
  5. [Step 5]

In the event that a former employee applies to [Company Name] for a new position, follow this procedure:

  1. [Step 1]
  2. [Step 2]
  3. [Step 3]
  4. [Step 4]
  5. [Step 5]

Remember, the steps and template we've covered here are only a general guide for creating a rehiring policy. You can adapt the process as needed to meet the needs and goals of your particular organization.

More tips for hiring the right talent for your organization:

Hiring can be more of a time-sensitive issue for small businesses. If you're a small business owner, you may want to employ certain strategies to speed up the process

Looking to streamline your hiring process even further? Advanced technology like artificial intelligence might be the key.

To maintain a strong workforce, you need to do more than just hire talent. Retention strategies are likewise essential for retaining the employees you have.

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