How to Tell Your Boss About an Arrest… and Keep Your Job

Whether you’re preparing to go to jail or you just got out, your job may be a looming thought on your mind. If you were arrested unexpectedly, did you get a chance to call your employer first? If you’re planning to turn yourself in, did you let your employer know? There are many deciding factors around retaining a job after going to jail, but a lot of them depend on two crucial elements: communication and timeliness.

The folks at ABC Bail Bonds has seen their fair share of individuals going to jail with a job, and leaving without it. Throughout the years, we’ve come to realize there are a few things you can do to lessen your chances of losing your job after going to jail. While there’s unfortunately no surefire way, these following steps will greatly help.

RELATED: A Friend’s in Jail… What Can You Do?

Gather All the Information

Paperwork stacked on a table from ABC Bail Bonds

First thing’s first, gather information about your jail sentence. If you’re preparing to turn yourself in, talk to your attorney about your situation, sentence, and find out exactly how many days you’ll be incarcerated.

If you just got out of jail after an unexpected arrest or don’t have an attorney, contact your municipal court and find out your exact charge. Additionally, if you have court dates coming up, gather all the information on that as well. Gather any and every bit of information you need, from the number of days spent in jail, to your parole officer’s name.

Find Out if You Have to Disclose

Disclosing your criminal history with your boss

While telling your boss if you’ll be missing work is obviously a requirement, disclosing why is a different story. While some employers don’t require you to disclose legal sentences, some definitely do. Find out if your employer requires legal sentencing disclosure, or if they don’t.

If not, and you’re preparing to turn yourself in, try to see if you can structure your jail time around your job. However, if they do require it, it’s best to obey their rules. Your criminal charges are public information—if your employer access this and finds out you didn’t disclose beforehand, you may be terminated.

If they do require disclosure and you just got out of jail (having missed work), start planning to contact your boss immediately. Gather your information, and be prepared for anything. However, if you’re planning to turn yourself in and your employer requires disclosure of criminal charges, consult with them first before you go to the courthouse.

Can You Take a Leave of Absence?

Leave of absence note for going to jail

If you’re planning to turn yourself in, be aware that some companies offer a leave of absence—without pay—for up to three months (of course, after your employer approves it). If it’s a possibility, arrange for your leave of absence to cover all your days in jail. However, if you just got out of jail and wasn’t able to inform your employer ahead of time, schedule the next possible meeting with them. Refer back to our previous point, and present all the information necessary to inform your boss of where you’ve been. If you were charged for a nonviolent crime, explain why you deserve to keep your job. If your offense heavily impacts your job, consider your disclosure.

Set an Appointment With Your Boss

A work meeting with a third person to discuss jail sentences with your boss

When doing this, remember not to choose a time that’s typically busy. Whether it’s early in the day or a little before closing, choose a time where interruption is least likely. This way, your boss won’t have to worry about all their other mid-day responsibilities and can give you their undivided attention.

Additionally, if you feel that this meeting may be emotional for you, consider bringing someone with you (a trusted person, of course). Someone who can reputably vouch for you, help you remember what to say, and keep your emotions in check. If it helps you feel less vulnerable, do what you need for it to be so.

Maintain Professionalism

When you finally meet with your boss, make sure you remain professional from start to end. They’ll be able to tell if you’re lying, nervous, anxious, or all the above. It’s okay to be nervous; however, make sure you look them in the eye and honestly disclose what you need to disclose. Apologize if you have to, and ask what you can do to keep your job. Inform them of your past accomplishments with them, and help them remember all of the reasons you deserve to stay.

If things go south and you aren’t certain of your job security, be honest about that too. Ask them how you can keep your job, or when to reapply if need be. Employers appreciate initiative and motivation—if it’s clear you’re passionate about keeping your job, they may think twice about letting you go.

Prepare For the Worst

Man with his head in his hands

Unfortunately, even if you do everything professionally possible, there’s still a chance you’ll lose your job. In Texas, an employer can fire someone for essentially any (or no) reason. This is especially true when it comes to incarceration and criminal charges. If you find yourself in a tough situation, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Mentally prepare yourself to hear what you don’t want to hear, and physically prepare yourself to take the news with professionalism.

If your employer informs you that you’re let go, ask if there’s a possibility to work for them in the future. They’ll be happy to give you valuable information about work opportunities in the future—or if there isn’t. However, it’s best to ask. That way, you can prepare yourself for what’s to come next, whether that’s searching for a new job, or preparing to go back to your old one.

Don’t Give Up

If you find yourself out of a job, don’t give up. Take that L (loss), and improve your current situation by getting to work finding a new job. Now that you have detailed information about your legal status, you can properly set yourself up for success by doing what you need to get back in the workforce.

Whether it’s rehabilitation, a vacation, or taking a course, knowing exactly where you stand will greatly assist you in your future endeavors at a better life. We at ABC Bail Bonds have seen both sad and happy endings, and have come to learn that no matter what, you have the power to control your destiny. We believe in you—now go get ‘em!

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