What employers can learn from Simon Cowell & Cheryl Cole

According to Glenn Hayes, a Partner and specialist in employment law at Irwin Mitchell, the news demonstrates that the rehiring of former employees can offer very clear advantages to employers – but warned they should also bear in mind a number of potential pitfalls.

Initial tweets from both Cowell and Cole regarding the news that the former Girls Aloud star was rejoining the hit talent show for its 11th series have been confirmed by ITV, with commentators suggesting the move may have been taken to boost ratings.

Despite the relationship between the singer and Cowell reportedly deteriorating as a result, the pair are known to have reconciled since then.

Whilst for some the idea of returning to an old job may not always be the most attractive idea, it is not uncommon for people to take such a step or for employers to call on ex-workers for their help in boosting a business, particularly where that employee has acted in good faith and diligently when leaving the organisation.

Glen said: “In general, this offers plenty of advantages. For example, an organisation saves on the cost of going through the recruitment process and also on the management time needed to train and develop the skills of the recruit.

“It also provides less uncertainty to an employer, who will know exactly what they are getting in terms of performance and ability. In Cheryl’s case, it is difficult to argue against the fact that her return to the show will prove – at least initially – to be a ratings hit for ITV due to how popular she was on her previous stint.

“However, the latter point also links to one of the potential disadvantages of the rehiring an old employee. Success is not always guaranteed on a person’s return to a job, no matter how popular they are or were. It is worth remembering there are plenty of examples in football where club legends have been hired as managers on a wave of goodwill from fans, only to fail to meet both their expectations and those of the Board.

Glenn added also that with so many issues to bear in mind, employers need to think carefully about taking on an old employee. Some points to consider include:

  • Make use of the employees probationary period to keep an eye on how well they have jumped back in with the old team.
  • Ascertain the opinions of the existing staff or team to see how best to reintroduce the employee.
  • Importantly, think about why the employee left in the first place. Is this likely to happen again in a few months time, or will a problem reoccur?

“Steps like this will give employers some protection and idea as to whether they are making the right move. In Cheryl’s case, she will most likely be on a fixed term contract and, if matters work in a similar manner to her US experiences, she may also be entitled to compensation in the form of the balance of that agreement due to loss of earnings. Simon Cowell will be hoping that she repeats her success in the UK however and this will not be necessary.”