Background Investigations

Listing Employment Terminations on Investigative Forms

So you got the job and are filling out the required investigative paperwork which may include an SF-85P for public trust positions or an SF-86 for national security positions. Additionally, there is an OF-306 (Declaration for Federal Employment) that has to be submitted. You get to the section on the forms that asks “During the last 5 years have you been fired from a job for any reason, did you quit after being told you would be fired, or did you leave a job by mutual agreement due to specific problems”? You think back to that job last year where you walked out the door after an argument with the supervisor and never returned to work there. You tell yourself, I quit that job on my own volition, therefore I do not have to list this.

“I wasn’t fired, I just stopped showing up…”

Here is the problem with this scenario: The danger you are putting yourself into by not disclosing the circumstances (even if you did quit) of leaving this employment is that the employer is well within their rights to record that as a termination for failure to follow orders, disrespectful conduct, or even absenteeism if you were scheduled to work after leaving and did not show up. Some employers require two weeks notice and if you don’t give it could be construed as a termination.

Flash forward to a completed background investigation that is flagged for material falsification or lack of candor because you failed to list the circumstances of the termination and the employer provided information that indicated you were fired. Not only will this delay the adjudication of the investigation, but it could result in the job offer being rescinded or a statement of reasons and/or denial being issued.

I always provide this advice when asked about providing information on the forms: when in doubt, disclose the information to prevent any appearance of dishonesty or lack of candor. More often than not, the reasons for a termination will not result in an adverse decision unless there is a pattern, but it will be hard to overcome the deliberate omission of required information.

Comment Archive

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    Where it is asking in the last 5 years, let’s say I was separated by management as in let go in April 2010 but I am now being asked this question as a new hire August 2015 for a federal job that requires a security clearance, As this would have been 5 years and 4 months ago regarding the termination, I am curious if I would be required to put this down or how years are being determined. I have no issue putting it down if it’s required as I have maintained a good relation with the employer to this day, I also had another situation where I was part of a layoff with my old company however as a result, we were immediately offered employment (same job/building/access different employer for paychecks) through another company as part of a job offer, I’m somewhat confused how to list this. My intent is to fully cooperate and be truthful and I would rather add more information and be on the safe side.

  2. Avatar

    Five years means exactly that- 365 days x 5. You do not need to list a layoff as being terminate since it was not due to anything you did or did not do.

  3. Avatar

    When I completed an initial temporary employment application for a federal employer I did not disclose an employer that terminated me due to how I was treated knowing they would express negative statements against me. So I omitted that employer and listed the rest of them in 5 yr period. Nothing came up but a year later, they want me to complete a NACI SF85. I want to know should I add this employer with an explanation or should I omit it again?