References…Still A Hot Topic?
It’s almost a year since ACAS published their guidance on employment references, but this remains a topic much hotter than our summer weather! Read my post to see if the ACAS guidance will help you in your search for the perfect job…..
Am I Entitled To A Reference?
The starting point to bear in mind, and a fact that lots of people are unaware of, is that there is usually no legal obligation for an employer (or previous employer) to provide a reference. This is perhaps unhelpful for many job hunters because a good reference can often be the deciding factor in getting that perfect job.
If you are not sure if your employer is obliged to provide you with a reference, speak to your HR department to find out what their policy is. Whilst some employers don’t have any policy in place, others will. In the latter case, the reference is likely to be limited to dates of employment, along with job title. Whilst this may seem very basic, remember that employers can deal with thousands of requests and so the provision of minimal information is likely to be more manageable for them. Also remember that you could ask previous managers or colleagues for a more personal and detailed reference, to supplement the main employer reference.
Can My Employer Give Me A Bad Reference?
If your employer does provide a reference, the new ACAS guidance confirms that it must be fair and accurate. The words fair and accurate are very often misunderstood. So often I have clients tell me that they received a “bad” reference and they assume that is unlawful. However, sometimes a factually accurate reference, may not shine an employee in a particularly good light. So long as the reference is fair and accurate, the employee is unlikely to have any form of redress.
ACAS confirm that reference can include:-
- basic facts about the job applicant, like employment dates and job descriptions
- answers to questions that the potential employer has specifically asked about the job applicant that are not usually given as basic facts, like absence levels and confirming the reason for leaving
- details about the job applicant’s skills and abilities
- details about the job applicant’s character, strengths and weaknesses relating to the suitability for the role they have applied for
As I have said above, the reference must be true, accurate and fair reflection of the job applicant. They should not include irrelevant personal information.
What If I Am Unhappy With My Reference?
If you are unhappy with your reference, you can usually request a copy in accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations 2018. Once you review your reference and if you believe it is misleading or inaccurate and caused you to suffer losses, you could look to pursue a claim for damages.
Help From Lincs Law?
If you need legal advice about any employment law or workplace issue, call me on 01522 440512 or visit the website www.lincslaw.co.uk for more information. Your telephone consultation is free, so why not call today and find out where you stand.
Director, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor