Can You Get Fired on the First Day of a New Job?

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As nervous as you might be for the first day of a new job, the idea of getting fired can make you feel even worse. While you can get fired on the first day of a new job, it will not be without a solid reason. 

We recommend focusing on how to excel in your job to lay a firm foundation of success from the first day instead of allowing the thought of being fired to ruminate. Here’s what you need to know about how to react to getting fired on your first day, but more importantly, how to avoid being fired on day one. 

Is it better to quit or get fired?

Generally, it is better to resign or quit than get fired because it gives you a sense of control over the situation and the overall decision. However, when choosing to resign instead of being fired, you might forgo unemployment benefits or a severance package.

Think deeply about why you want to quit. It is better to quit for a good reason than for no reason at all. If you have decided to quit your job, prepare a polite and professional resignation letter that briefly mentions your reasons for quitting. 

Your reasons for quitting can include personal emergencies, a sudden move, or a better job offer elsewhere. Valid reasons for quitting can also be related to the environment in the office or the overall work culture of your current place of employment.  

From an unsafe work environment and ethical differences to a lack of opportunities for advancement, there are many reasons why people quit their jobs. If you are preparing to resign, here are our tips on how to resign well

Can employers see if you were fired?

If you were fired, you can assume that your potential employers can and will find out. While you don’t need to state that you were fired on your LinkedIn account or as part of your resume, many employers will conduct background checks or ask for references.

If you are asked about your history of being fired during an interview, you should be sure to disclose the fact that you were fired to the employer. Honesty is the best policy, even when telling the truth is hard, but you’ll have the opportunity to explain the reason behind your firing and how you have rectified the situation.

When you can be fired without warning

You can be fired without warning in many cases, even if it is not justifiable in your eyes. Most employees are considered at-will employees, meaning an employer can terminate your contract without warning. This is usually noted in the employment termination clause, though there are specific laws and rules on the state level that can protect you from being fired on the spot in certain instances. 

You might also be protected by union contracts in some cases. If you believe you have experienced wrongful termination, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer and open a case. Here are some reasons why you can get fired on your first day of work. 

Arriving late

While it’s never a good idea to show up late to work, arriving on time is especially important on your first day of work. Account for traffic and other unexpected delays to ensure that you can arrive early. Showing up late on your first day of work will show your employer that you don’t take your job seriously, which is not a message that you ever want to send.

Taking extra breaks

If you arrive back from lunch two hours late or leave the office without first providing an explanation, your employer can see this as a reason to fire you on the first day. It is another way to say you don’t value the job or prioritize the goals of the company. 

If you have to be away from work for a valid reason, like a medical appointment, on your first day of work, talk with your employer about it ahead of time. Make sure you ask for permission and receive approval before taking off. 

Safety issues

If you choose to smoke in the office when the office building is a designated non-smoking area by law, then you risk being fired. Engaging in any type of risky, dangerous, or illegal activity are a cause for termination as well, so make sure you abide by all rules and regulations on-site. 

Changing employment contract

Showing up to your place of employment on your first day of work and demanding more money or different hours can be a cause for termination. You were hired on the basis of certain expectations that you already agreed to in your contract. If you cannot meet them or you have changed your mind, then your employer can terminate your contract. 

Lack of attention

Spending time on your phone, responding to personal calls, or ignoring co-workers can be a reason for termination, especially on your first day. You should never distract yourself at work, but this is particularly true on day one of your new job. 


Complaining is never considered professional, no matter the circumstances, but this is especially true on your first day. Avoid complaining about the company, the job, your boss, or fellow employees. If you are heard complaining, your employer may feel that you lack loyalty and dedication to the company, resulting in the decision to fire you. 


If you are rude or unkind to other employees or to your boss, you could run the risk of being fired. Similarly, if your employer feels that you are creating an unsafe or unethical work environment, you can get fired on your first day. 


While it should be obvious, do not steal from your place of employment. If you steal something from your workplace or from another employee, you can get fired on your first day. 

Still job searching

If you mention that you are still job hunting or insinuate that you are not fully committed to the job you just started, then you could get fired on your first day. 

How do I explain being fired in an interview?

If you have been fired and you need to explain it to prospective employers during a future interview, follow these steps! 

  1. Remain professional. You should never speak poorly of your previous employer, no matter how you feel about them. Prioritize professionalism over personal feelings or perspectives. 
  2. Be honest and sincere. It is better to admit that you needed to improve in certain areas than to blame other people. Take accountability and demonstrate how you have addressed the issues that led to your termination.
  3. Show personal growth. An anecdote that explains how the experience of being fired helped you grow and improve your skills can demonstrate that you’ve turned the negative situation into something positive. Everyone makes mistakes, but what matters is that you’ve grown, which will impress potential employers.
  4. Promote your skill set. If you’ve taken the time to update your skills or you believe you have qualifications that make you especially well-suited for the job, highlight those during the interview to end on a positive note.

It can be stressful to be fired because that means you no longer have a source of income. But while you are looking for a new job, you can use MoneyLion’s Instacash feature to obtain a cash float so that you don’t have to worry about falling behind on your bills while you wait to land a new job. Here are some ideas of jobs you can qualify for without a degree to get you inspired! 

Set yourself up for success by creating a financial safety net 

While you can get fired on your first day, making an effort to show up early and act professionally can go a long way in terms of making a good first impression. Avoid behaving in the ways we discussed above so that you can avoid termination and being fired from new job. You could also try to connect with the company culture and be on the lookout for how you can contribute to the business operations.

Whether or not you’re starting a new job, it is always a good idea to use MoneyLion’s banking, investing, and personal finance tracker to build a safety net and protect you from financial emergencies, like being fired from your job!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get fired for not answering my phone on my day off?

Yes. Since most employees are considered at-will employees, your employer does not need to have a valid reason to fire you. That means you could be fired for something as minimal as not answering your phone on your day off or covering a shift for someone else.

How long can you work in one day?

There is no federal law that specifies a maximum number of hours that an employee can work in one day. However, specific industries do have safety limitations in place, such as a maximum number of hours in place for long-haul truck drivers, pilots, and doctors

Can I get fired for missing one day of work?

In most cases, yes. Many employees are considered at-will workers, meaning they can be fired for anything, even missing a day of work. The only exception to this would be if you have an illness, a disability, or an obligation that legally protects you from termination and allows you to miss work for related reasons.

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