Generally when an employee hands you their notice, they will normal fall into one of two categories, the first one being the ‘we will be said to see you leave ‘ or ‘thank goodness for that’. Whichever category it may be, let’s suppose that one day you receive a call from a fellow business owner considering taking on your former employee?
If this individual managed to fall into your first category, great, you are so pleased that they have found themselves a new position. But wait, what about if the individual in question fell straight into the second category the moment they resigned? Yikes, what do you tell their new employer?
What if that new employer asked, if you was given the opportunity would you hire the individual under interrogation again?
If we are being brutal, you probably shudder at the mention of their name and under no circumstances would you hire them again. You was not happy with their work, and certainly wouldn’t wish this on another employer.
So surely, this the part where you speak your mind, and explain what you experienced; after all you would want somebody in a similar situation to look out for you, wouldn’t you? Wrong.
The law states that no former employees have the right to any reference from you. With the exception of an agreed reference included in a settlement agreement, then you can’t refuse to give a reference in future.
Where you are to give a reference, it is important that reasonable preparation is given, to ensure that it’s fair, accurate and not misleading. This same rule applies for references given verbally, so be especially careful when giving references over the telephone.
While you feel that it is fair and reasonable from your perspective to say that you wouldn’t employ this individual again, it’s far safer to keep it quiet and not mention this to their new employer.
There are three main points to remember when giving references:
- References must only ever be based on fact;
- You must be able to back up with clear evidence; and
- You should never provide any negative opinions about an individual.
Why? Well, if your former employee found out then you could potentially have a case against you.
Here are our tips to ensure you don’t find yourself in the same situation as above:
- Always ask for the reference request to be in writing, this way you can consider what you wish to say carefully;
- It is easy to slip up when giving verbal references, and what you say could also be misinterpreted;
- Remember that if you really don’t have anything good to say, you can refuse to give references – but it’s always best to make this a standard practice to avoid any allegations of discrimination;
- Be sure to provide basic references only e.g. the employee’s employment, length of service, job title and duties;
- Watch out for former employees that threatened you with a claim or brought one. It is important not to refuse a reference as this could be deemed victimisation.
So, remember while there is nothing wrong with you giving a verbal reference or giving your honest opinion, but it’s always safer to keep it to yourself. If you need any guidance with references, contact us on 01909 512 120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org