Ask HR: How Can Laid-Off Workers Get Rehired by Their Former Employer?

By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP April 16, 2021
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Ask HR: How Can Laid-Off Workers Get Rehired by Their Former Employer?

​Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP

SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today.

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here.

 

I was let go last year, after almost 29 years at my company, for "financial reasons" due to COVID-19. I recently saw a position posting to the general public for the same job. Is there a reason why my company wouldn't call me back?  And if I do apply and am not selected for whatever reason, is there an issue here that I can explore with the HR department of the company or even legal counsel?Noel C.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Thanks for writing, and I'm sorry to hear you lost your job. It has been a tremendously challenging year for many hardworking employees and industries across the country.

Unfortunately, there are no requirements for employers to contact former workers about open positions. And unless you signed a contract, there's no guarantee you will get your job back, even if your company is hiring for the same position. At the end of the day, organizations are not required to rehire laid-off workers.

Before you reapply, check your termination notice for any call-back rights or rehire eligibility that would impact your application. I also recommend reaching out to HR for more context and clarity and to express your interest in returning to work for the company. You may find your organization is undergoing internal changes, or the responsibilities of your original position are being re-evaluated.

If you feel you were not considered for re-employment based on a factor such as age, race, sex, religion or a disability, and you are qualified for the position, you could contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or legal counsel for additional guidance. 

That said, this doesn't mean it's impossible to get rehired at your company. Employers frequently rehire laid-off workers. It tends to be more cost-effective than recruiting and hiring someone out of network, and the institutional knowledge is invaluable. It also demonstrates loyalty to solid employees.

On a more positive note, we're continuing to see businesses increase hiring as the economy improves. Stay positive, and I hope you can find a position that's a good fit for you soon!

 

My organization changed the salary range for the job I have. My pay was not reduced, but the ceiling rate for the job was lowered significantly. My job and responsibilities did not change. Why do companies do this?Jackie

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: I understand how it can be concerning to learn the salary range for your position has changed—especially when the work remains the same.

However, there's likely more to the story. Have you heard from your organization about these changes? Your company may be in the process of sharing a communication plan to provide more details into the how and why of the salary scale change. While I can't speak to the specifics of your situation, there are a couple of reasons why a company may choose to make salary range adjustments.

Employers frequently look at labor market data and use it to re-evaluate salary structures. If your job was put into a different category, or even under a different division in the company, the salary range for that category may have been different than the existing one.

Additionally, an employer could expand the compensation structure for the company—meaning an organization may be consolidating positions or separating positions into new categories with different salary ranges.

Occasionally, organizations have to adjust overall company expenses due to financial difficulties. Companies will start this process by looking at the expenses related to employees, including salaries. It's not unheard of for organizations to reduce some, or all, salary ranges to meet financial needs—especially during an economic downturn.

If you don't get more clarity from your organization in a timely manner, I encourage you to have an honest, but respectful, conversation with your people manager about these changes to share your concerns and clear up any confusion. Hopefully your manager can answer your questions and provide some helpful context.

Good luck!

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