You’ve been asked for a reference

Giving an employment reference can be a minefield. It’s easy to wax lyrical about members of staff who regularly make ’employee of the month’ status but what about the ones that you are secretly pleased to see leave?

Employers are often worried about telling prospective employers the truth about an employee’s performance. If a member of staff has been a poor performer or just hasn’t fitted in with your culture should you tell it as it is or keep quiet and just be grateful that they are moving on?

Rule of thumb for giving references

A rule of thumb is to keep it relevant and stick to facts. If an employee isn’t applying for a job where their interpersonal skills are going to be tested then there is no need to mention that they are not the best networker in the world.

On the other hand, if an employee is applying for a job which is classed as a position of trust and you have factual information which could adversely impact on them being hired then you must be careful not to mislead the person asking for the reference.

There are a couple of ways you can handle this without putting yourself or the company in the middle of a legal battle.

ACAS and Toolkit guidance

We have updated seven of our Toolkits to reflect the news that ACAS has published new guidance on employment references at this link.

The guidance explains what an employment reference is, whether one has to be provided, what you can include and when employment references are needed. It also includes guidance on job offers and references, whether an employer can give a bad reference and guidance on resolving problems with references.

If you need more in depth and practical guidance for managers feeling the heat then check out our solution.