Are You Obliged To Provide a Reference?

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Employers are not obliged to provide a reference for an employee who has left unless there was an agreement to do so or there is a duty to provide a reference because of the industry, such as financial services.

References have to be factual, fair and not misleading. They can be brief and just state the employee’s job title and the dates between which they were employed or can have a bit more detail to include their final salary.

Employees can’t ask their previous employer for a copy of the reference but they can request a copy from their new employer. In the event a reference is inaccurate or results in the employee losing their new job, this can be pursued through Courts for financial loss or worse case defamation of character, negligence or discrimination.

When giving a reference make it clear whether it is the Company providing a reference or whether it is a personal reference. If it is personal it should not be on Company paper or from Company email account.

Best practice is to have a clear policy on whether references are provided and if so what type of reference can be expected.

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