Does Getting Fired Go On Your Record?

In the office corridor, a woman stands with a pensive expression, her face showing signs of distress. She seems lost in thought, considering her options and weighing her next move. Perhaps she's contemplating whether to share the news of her recent termination with her husband.

Being terminated from a job can be a distressing experience, regardless of your tenure in the industry. The question that often arises is whether or not this termination will be recorded on your employment history.  

The answer is yes, getting fired will be documented in your personnel file, which is maintained by your former employer. However, employers are obligated to safeguard the confidential information in your file, and they are unlikely to disclose that they terminated you due to the risk of legal action. Consequently, employment background checks cannot reveal that you were fired.  

This guide will provide you with insights into the recording of terminations in your employment history, the contents of your personnel file, and the information that can be accessed through employment background checks.

What Is An Employee Record?

Before we dive deeper into understanding whether or not getting fired goes on your record, it’s important to clarify which record you’re worried about. 

In this case, the record you’re likely worried about is the personnel file kept by your employer. That file contains all documents related to your time working for that employer.

More specifically, a personnel file contains details like:

  • Your CV, resume, and job application
  • Records of your education and previous jobs
  • Your job description and employment contract
  • Evaluation forms and any write-ups or warning letters
  • And much more

Your employee record or personnel file is a treasure trove of sensitive information that should be kept confidential. As an employee, it’s important to know that your employer has a legal obligation to safeguard this information and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

This is especially true for departments that handle your personnel file, as they are responsible for ensuring that your personal information is kept secure. 

Employers are extremely cautious about sharing this information, and will typically only do so if legally required. This is because they are also concerned about the potential legal implications of sharing personal information, such as former employees filing lawsuits against them.

It’s important to note that employers can face serious consequences for failing to protect their employees’ personal information.

A woman in a black business suit walking out of an office building, looking sad and carrying her belongings in a black plastic bag. It is apparent she has just been fired and is facing a difficult transition ahead.

Does Getting Fired Go On Your Record?

As you read earlier, your employment record contains all your private information about your time working for that employer. So, yes, getting fired also goes on that record, most likely as a copy of the termination letter that you received from your employer.

Besides that, your personnel file will likely also have disciplinary records, performance evaluations, and other relevant documents leading up to the moment you got fired. 

After all, the employer must keep precise records to show that firing you was a justified action for them to take.

Record-keeping is essential, even when you’re no longer working with the same company. So, they’ll still keep these records even after your termination.

That’s also why you must be sure to respond to any disciplinary action taken against you while you’re still working. For example, suppose your manager issues you a write-up that you disagree with. In that case, you must submit a written rebuttal which also goes on your record.

Having everything in writing is a way to protect yourself, so anyone who sees your personnel file can also see your side of the story.

Can You View Your Employee Record?

Yes, you typically have a right to view the personnel file kept by your employer. However, that can vary depending on your location, as states have different laws that apply to these situations.

You might also be able to view your file at your past employer. Again, your rights here are determined by what the law says in your area.

Whatever the case, you must remember that your access to those records can be limited. For instance, you might not be allowed to view details of any internal investigations that involve you.

On top of that, you might not be allowed to remove, borrow, or make copies of your record. Plus, throughout the whole process, a staff member will likely supervise you as you read through your records.

Still, the best thing to do when you want to view your employee record is to ask. Asking them verbally is an excellent place to start, though the employer might ask you for a written request.

Can Another Company Find Out You Were Fired?

If you’re concerned about whether or not getting terminated goes on your record, then you’re likely wondering if future employers can find out you were fired. The answer is no, at least not formally.

When you apply for a new job, your former employer will likely get calls from other companies to ask about you. Still, that’s no reason to worry, as the kind of information that these two companies will exchange is minimal.

Firstly, as you read earlier, your former employer keeps lots of your private information in a personnel file. As a result, they’re concerned about potentially getting sued for letting that confidential information get out.

So, when they receive a call from another company asking about you, they’ll likely share only two things:

  • Firstly, they’ll confirm that you were indeed an employee that worked with them in the past.
  • Secondly, they’ll confirm precisely when your time with them started and ended.

Typically, former employers will not provide additional detail beyond what’s listed above. They’re not even allowed to discuss your professional behavior or any disciplinary issues you might have been involved with. 

Again, they don’t want to risk sharing your private information and potentially getting in trouble.

With all that said, you must also understand the realities of the job market. For example, the recruiter evaluating you might find out you were fired through informal means.

For example, they might hear about your termination if you work in a small industry where most people know each other. The same is also true if you were previously occupying a high-profile position.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what information goes on your record. In those cases, hiding that you got fired from your last job will be pretty challenging.

Still, all of that is hearsay, and a recruiter should not factor that into any employment decisions involving you.

A sad man standing in front of elevator doors, looking down in contemplation. He appears to have just been fired and is likely wondering about the implications of this event on his future job prospects.

Does Getting Fired Appear On Employment Background Checks?

No, getting fired will not appear on an employment background check performed on you. You’ll better understand why that’s the case when you learn about employment background checks and how they work.

When job-hunting, a potential employer will run a background check on you in some hiring situations. They could do this in-house or use a professional third-party service provider to verify your background details.

Generally, the purpose of these employment background checks is to confirm that you are who you claim to be. In other words, the process aims to verify your details and ensure you have the proper qualifications, licenses, and other credentials necessary for the role.

As you read earlier, the only formal record of you ever getting fired is in your personnel file, held by your former employer. The file is confidential as it contains plenty of your private information that the employer is responsible for keeping safe.

Because of that, employers are concerned about releasing information that could get them in trouble. Doing so might violate state laws on private information or cause you to file a lawsuit against them.

That also applies to how the employer responds to an employment background check. When the person conducting that background check contacts them, your former employer will only give them a limited amount of information confirming when your time with them started and ended.

What Are Employment Background Checks?

When it comes to employment background checks, there are a few things you should know. Firstly, getting fired from a previous job won’t show up on your background check. However, there are still a few important pieces of information that potential employers can find out about you.

  • Personal identity: One of the primary reasons for conducting a background check is to confirm your personal identity. This includes verifying your name, age, and where you’re from. This is important for employers to ensure that they are hiring the right person for the job.
  • Criminal records: Another crucial piece of information that can be found through a background check is whether or not you have a criminal record. This is especially important for jobs that involve handling sensitive information or money. Employers want to ensure that they are hiring someone who is trustworthy and reliable.
  • Driving license: If the job you’re applying for requires a driver’s license, then your background check will also verify your license type. This is important for jobs that involve operating company vehicles. Additionally, some roles require specialized licenses such as a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or forklift certification.
  • Credit history: A job candidate’s credit history is also something that employers consider. That’s especially true for roles that handle money or financial transactions. For example, some jobs will not hire you if their background check confirms that you’ve filed for bankruptcy.
  • Work history: Lastly, employment background checks also confirm your work history. These checks will verify your role, employer, and duration at the job (including start and end dates).

Based on the list above, it’s clear to see that there will not be any information about whether or not you were fired from your last job. Instead, employment background checks collect and verify plenty of other information regarding your suitability for the job you’re applying to.

How Do You Explain Being Fired To An Interviewer?

So far, you’ve read that getting fired doesn’t go on your record, whether that’s the personnel file or through an employment background check. Still, it’s only natural that you might worry about future employers finding out you were once fired from a job.

One way to manage your concerns is to be prepared with an explanation if the issue of you getting fired emerges for any reason. Besides that, having an answer also comes in handy if you ever decide to let your new employer know that you were fired in the past.

Here are a few quick tips for explaining to an interviewer that you were fired from a previous job:

  • Firstly, always be open and honest. If you’ve been fired previously, do not lie about it. Lying could make things worse with your interviewer and future employer.
  • Secondly, explain the circumstances that lead to you being fired without leaving out any side of the story.
  • Thirdly, highlight what you learned from the experience. Again, how you grow from it is more important than the negative experience of getting fired.
  • Lastly, never criticize your former employer. No matter the circumstance, interviewers view it as a red flag when candidates speak badly about the company they left.

Overall, you must remember that getting fired in the past will not kill your career or necessarily affect your job prospects. Instead, be open and honest about it and show how you grew from that experience.

Final Thoughts

Overall, you’ve learned here that getting fired goes on a record. More specifically, it goes on your personnel file kept by the employer who fired you.

However, that employer must protect the private information in your personnel file. On top of that, most employers want to avoid potential lawsuits by never disclosing your personal information, including details of their firing you.

Lastly, employment background checks will discover plenty of information about you. However, that information doesn’t include whether or not you were fired.

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