I had an employee (lets call him 'Old') who worked for me for 1 year. He had learnt a lot of things during the job. Two month ago he left the job and joined some other company (not a competitor of course).

For the first 2 weeks after he left, I faced a lot of problem but on the third week I hired a new employee (lets call him 'New'). 'New' is hardworking and completes the job in less time than 'Old'. 'New' is also less expensive than 'Old'.

The problem now is that 'Old' wishes to rejoin my company. For financial reasons I can afford any one of the two.

I need help in deciding if I should let 'Old' rejoin and kick off 'New' or should say no to 'Old'. Also require logics to justify myself.

Note: There're no "Minimum serving period" contract signed by my employees

For your reference, below are some stats.

'Old' Positives:

  • Knows the entire process
  • Trustworthy
  • I'm emotionally attached
  • More qualified than 'New'

'Old' Negatives:

  • Expensive ($10 per hour)
  • Sometimes takes advantage of my trust over him (like being absent, late to work)

'New' Positives:

  • Fast learner. Does work faster that 'Old'
  • Less Expensive ($8 per hour)

'New' Negatives:

  • Don't know if he can handle all work 'Old' had been handling ('New' is just one month old)
  • Don't know if I can trust him
  • Don't know if he may leave the job
  • 13
    You list "Don't know if he may leave the job" only under New's negatives. I would think that would be an even bigger negative for Old. They've already left, so they've demonstrated they're willing to do so. How sure are you they won't leave again?
    – animuson
    Jul 27, 2012 at 6:57
  • 22
    What has New done to justify being fired or let go? Simply being in this position isn't New's fault in any way. It would be very poor form to let New go.
    – Nicole
    Jul 27, 2012 at 7:02
  • 1
    "Note: There're no contracts signed by my employees" Unrelated to the question, but especially from an employee point of view (regardless of locale), that would be a major red flag for me.
    – user
    Jul 27, 2012 at 7:52
  • 3
    @Sahil So you have a contract with the employee, only it doesn't specify a "minimum period the employee needs to serve the organisation". That's quite a long ways from "there are no contracts signed by my employees".
    – user
    Jul 27, 2012 at 8:23
  • 1
    @Sahil - The simple solution is make the Old sign a contract that makes it worth your while to get rid of New. Make him sign 1 year contract. If you get rid of New and hire Old you could be in the same situation in a month, and at that point, you won't be able to get Newback. Old already has proven not to be trust worthy, he left his new employement after a month, that is a huge red flag.
    – Donald
    Jul 27, 2012 at 11:03

4 Answers 4


Generally I would go with the new employee. I don't how many employees you have and how important it is to you, but firing a good performing new employee for a reason like that... really leaves a bad aftertaste. When I as an employee sign a contract I do so in good faith, i.e. I don't plan to leave quickly just because I see another opportunity that interests me. When I get hired the employer has to plan on some training while I already get paid...etc.

I expect the same from an employer. Firing someone quickly because the position becomes rebundant for really unexpected reason... ok. Firing because of bad performance... ok. But firing someone for this wouldn't be okay for me. What is true for the employer is also true for the employee - he might have had to move, quit an old job, invested personal time in training for the job...

Now, you are not legally required not to do this. You may also not see yourself as morally required, depending on your personal outlook. But you can still expect that this can hurt your reputation and you should care about that.


Lets assume that the new guy has more upside potential. If you fire him, then the old guy leaves again, you will now have zero employees.

You can tell the old guy that if the new guy doesn't work out, then you will consider rehiring him in the future.

  • 3
    I would not consider an employee if they left my company after a year, then after a month, wanted to return. Just seems like a huge red flag to me.
    – Donald
    Jul 27, 2012 at 11:05

What I read between the lines it that both guys can do the job and the main difference is that you know the former employee better than new, which is natural.

In such case I would more look in values that indicate future potential of these guys and how these values are aligned with the goals of the company.

Personally, I value urge to learn very highly thus I'd rather keep the new guy. However, in your case the context can be different -- reliability and knowledge of the stuff may be valued higher for example in maintenance projects.

There's one more flavor in it: the guy who left and wants to come back learned an important lesson -- your org is better that he thought it is. I worked with such guys and they seem to be pretty loyal employees. Note however, it definitely wouldn't be the most important factor when making up my mind.

  • thanks for the tip: "look in values that indicate future potential" and "urge to learn".
    – Sahil
    Jul 27, 2012 at 9:48

If you fire New to hire back Old, you better also think of what could happen if Old decides to leave you again. And if that happens, you might find that none of those in contact with the guy who was fired that way will be willing to work with you.

Oh that guy fired New without a reason - I better pass.

If you are concerned about this, consider at least giving New some compensation package at firing.

Yeah that guy fired New - but even if that happens to me I can expect a compensation - likely a nice one to deal with in any case.

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