Being unexpectedly arrested is a terrible experience, and spending the night (or more) in jail is even worse. While there’s unquestionably a number of reasons why an unexpected night in jail is detrimental, there’s one that can perhaps trump them all—missing work.

When someone’s arrested unexpectedly, they aren’t able to take their time calling everyone in their contact list. In fact, (depending on the facility) you can only write down a couple phone numbers, and you have a limited time on the phone. Because most arrange for their personal friends or family to get them out of jail, they don’t spend much time contacting their employer—much less properly inform them of their predicament.

An unexpected arrest is terrible for anyone, and even worse for those with a job. While there’s no absolute-guarantee to keeping your job if you miss too much work, there is definitely hope when you take these steps:

  • Call your employer first (if you can)
  • Be honest
  • Ask questions

Retaining your job is one of the most important things to do if facing an unexpected arrest. By doing these, you’ll increase your chances of keeping your current position—and being forgiven.

SEE: What Information Do I Need For a Bail Bond?

Call Your Employer First

Woman calling her boss about going to jail

First thing’s first, call your boss. Immediately. As soon as the arresting officer gives you the opportunity to jot down a couple numbers, find your workplace’s information. The sooner they hear from you, the better your chances are for forgiveness. Don’t forget to keep a cool head, though—the calmer you are, the more your employer can empathize with you.

Before you get a hold of them, however, prepare an opening statement: something like “Hello, this is (your name), and I’m calling because I’m currently facing an unexpected arrest. I am working to resolve this situation, and will contact you at the soonest possible opportunity to further discuss. Thank you so much for your understanding.”

If you weren’t able to do this while detained, don’t lose hope just yet; as soon as you’re out of jail, contact them immediately and remember to do this next thing:

Be Honest

A man with a pinocchio nose due to lying to his boss

This is perhaps the most important thing to remember. The phrase “the truth shall set you free” could not be any more appropriate when dealing with your boss after an arrest. Regardless of the reason of arrest, it’s always necessary to be completely honest when you tell your boss why you missed work.

Professionalism combined with honesty puts your best impression forward when you have that talk with your employer. If you had a drug arrest, openly inform them of what happened—but don’t just leave it at that. Follow up with exactly why they should forgive you, why it’s something that won’t happen again, and why you deserve to keep your job. Leave any and all emotions out the door when having this talk, too; keep a level head, calm voice, and maintain eye contact when discussing your situation.

Your professionalism may impress your boss and have them think twice about your repercussions. Another way to appear level-minded and professional during this meeting is by doing this next thing:

Ask Questions

How to ask your boss about keeping your job after an arrest

Naturally, a lot of questions come to mind after an arrest. “Will I keep my job,” “what do I do now,” “what can I do,” are just a few, but you get the idea. While there’s definitely a possibility of asking too many questions, it’s always best to be eager when speaking with your boss.

Try to put yourself in your boss’ shoes; one of your employees doesn’t make it to work for a day (or number of days) because of jail. While you know there’s not much a detained individual can do, it’s easy to get the wrong idea. That’s why you, as the employee, should always work to display your eagerness to keep your job—by asking questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask your boss what you have to do to keep your job. Does it mean you’ll have to take a drug test? Will you have to go through a program or class? Are you working to improve yourself? Gather your questions and professionally ask your boss the important questions that will give them the idea that you’re serious, and will do what it takes to be forgiven.

SEE: Bail Bonds FAQs

Don’t Be Afraid

Employers value initiative, honesty, and eagerness. If you find yourself in a tough spot with your job because you got arrested, don’t be afraid of your boss. Look them in the eye, remain humble, and show them why you deserve to stay with them. By doing these alone, you’ll increase the chances of your boss hearing you out with an open mind—and even give you another chance.