Providing a reference: dos and don’ts for employers

4th May 2022

Determining whether to provide a reference or not, and knowing what to include can be difficult.

Blake Morgan employment lawyers Ian Jones and Hannah Waterworth examine providing references in an article first published in People Management on 26 April.

The law in this area is complex, so determining whether to provide a reference and what to include can be difficult.

Generally, there is no legal obligation to provide a reference and employers are entitled to refuse. However, where one is provided, employers have a duty to the subject of the reference to take reasonable care to ensure that the information contained in the reference is true, accurate and fair and does not give a misleading impression. Employers also have a duty of care towards any prospective employers and an inaccurate or misleading reference could lead to a potential claim for negligent mis-statement or misrepresentation.

Employers’ obligations don’t end there. They must ensure that a refusal to provide a reference is not discriminatory due to any of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. In addition, they need to comply with data protection legislation.

For more details of what to do, and what not to do when providing a reference, you can read the article in full here, or contact our employment lawyers for legal advice.

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