in Changing Jobs, Employers, Job Applications, Staying in Your Job

Ten Ways to Get Fired

10 Ways to Get Fired

Not that this comes up very often, but it is harder to get fired from a job than you would imagine.
That said, a recent experience with an employer in North Wales indicates that it is possible to be fired for wearing a pink shirt, getting pregnant (the same employer was witnessed to observe that pregnant women were ‘bad for business’) or costing too much money.

So here are the 10 best ways to get (almost) instantly fired.

1. Steal from your employer and make sure he or she knows about it.

Usually the best way of doing this is to stick whatever it is you are stealing down your shirt (TV, laptop or telephone system) and walk out of the office past the boss. “Hand in the till” is the technical term for this…. A brief trip away from the family at her majesty’s pleasure may well follow this somewhat OTT effort to be dismissed.

2. Refuse to do work when requested and inform the boss that he or she needs to do the work themselves (or buck their ideas up).

The quickest way to get the sack using this route is to simply refuse to carry out a reasonable routine request from a manager.

3 Punch your boss on the nose.

Many years ago I recall hearing a horror story doing the rounds about a drunken locum who turned up at 10am in the morning red-eyed and stinking of booze, disappearing for a lunchtime bender, before reappearing towards the end of the afternoon and taking a swing at the senior partner before collapsing on the floor. A conviction for assault does not automatically get you struck off (see the Gazette for a recent SDT decision on this last week) so could be an option for a swift termination. Be wary of punching a senior partner who plays rugby, or worse still is a former SAS platoon commander.

4 Break the rules.

A bit boring this, but probably best to actually set fire to the rule book in the car park with the rest of the office watching you. Breaking rules opens up all sorts of possibilities for anyone wanting the sack – a careful trawl through the staff handbook can throw up some interesting and imaginative methods to earn a bit of gardening leave. Many companies, for example, have strict rules about drug use in the work place, the breaking of which can lead to being marched though reception with a potted plant in a cardboard box.

The Guardian newspaper has a rule that sleeping during working hours is grounds for dismissal. But despite many and frequent instances of the rule being broken, no one has yet been sacked. I am glad Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment does not have this rule, as I may well have lost my job every day for the last 13 years…

5. Bully your fellow staff members.

As a recruiter and career coach I have to say that I have never yet come across a more senior member of staff bullying their more junior members of staff and being dismissed as a result. In my experience bullies tend to be rewarded, not punished. One to try though. See if you can get away with bullying the senior partner….

6. Get an imprisonable offence on your criminal record.

As a rule of thumb, being convicted of an imprisonable offence can result in dismissal. But this method has the side-effect of getting a criminal record and possibly ending up in prison, somewhat extreme if all you wanted was to change jobs.

On the bright side, once you are released from jail, you can then fail to mention the conviction in future job applications and CVs – and acquire a sure-fire reason for instant dismissal at a later date in your career. There is a locum out there currently doing the rounds with a string of convictions for fraud and a 10 year prison sentence under his belt. I suspect he may not find many willing employers…

7.  Be rubbish.

Here’s a challenge. Go into work and be deliberately rubbish for about 5 years. In larger practices I can almost guarantee that no-one will notice, particularly if you are good friends with any of the partners. In smaller practices other fee earners may notice when the firm goes to the wall for lack of fees, but this is not a quick way of getting fired.

Although this method might be slow, it does have some advantages. Because many employers are loath to spend the time and effort, not to mention possible legal bills, they may instead decide to approach you with a generous cash offer.

8. Go into business (take your following)

We get calls nearly every day of the week from law firms wanting solicitors with following. I very often explain that such solicitors do not really exist and those who do want such high rewards to join another firm that they are not worth recruiting.

On the face of it, renting office space across the road, printing up business cards, or setting up a rival firm aimed at taking business away from your current employer, would count as meriting instant dismissal. Employees are allowed considerable leeway under the law in setting up their own business while working for someone else – so long as they are not utilising confidential information or trying to poach the company’s existing client list. Amazingly even renting office space, and limited administration such as getting letterheads printed, is not a fair cause for dismissal.

I started Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment by running it in my spare time whilst working as a solicitor. I was fairly careful not to take calls during office hours, but there were times that someone would call me on my mobile at 5.01pm and I would interrupt a discussion with the senior partner to disappear into another room to conclude a deal before coming back to take the flack from the understandably annoyed partner!

9 Post a picture of your boss on Facebook

Nice easy one this. Copy a picture of a handcuffed criminal leaving court and paste the senior partner’s face onto it . Add a suitably witty comment and send it to all your work colleagues and friends. Sit back and wait for swift removal from the office. Unfortunately a few senior partners have recently developed a sense of humour and this may no longer work.

10 Work solidly for 20 years for the same firm

This is virtually guaranteed to result in you being dismissed at a time you least expect it. In my experience it is no longer healthy to remain with the same firm for more than about 10 years. After this you become one of the pieces of furniture and we all know what happens to old furniture (it ends up in a skip if that assists).

Loyalty, commitment and longevity count for very little at a lot of solicitors firms, although there are some exceptions to this. After all, why are you not running your own firm or taking an equitable stake in a practice if you have been there for 10 years?

Jonathan Fagan LLM Solicitor (non-practising) is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at or visit one of our websites.



Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at