References and how to give them
Have you ever received a lengthy questionnaire about an ex-employee seeking all sorts of details, from their sickness record to a detailed analysis of their performance record? For a smaller business, finding this information about ex-employees and putting it together in a reliable and accurate form can take hours.
Did you know there is no general legal obligation on employers to give references to anyone?
But before you get too excited and decide to throw all those reference requests in the bin, here are some top tips on references and how to organise when to give them and how.
You don’t have to fill in other people’s forms – you can provide the references you feel are appropriate in the format you want. It is very rare that you are actually under a legal obligation to provide a reference – if someone suggests that you are obliged to respond, ask for the specific statutory reference that establishes the obligation ... and do check that it does have that effect!
Almost always, you don’t have to give a reference if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to spend hours of your time on it. But, remember that you will also be requesting references yourself some day.
And by the way, references are an extremely unreliable way of confirming an individual’s suitability for a role, since most referees won’t know what your role requires, and you won’t know how their old role was structured. It is so easy to recruit someone with a glowing reference who turns out to be useless. Often the information in references (other than start and finish date) is worse than useless – but sometimes taking up a reference can show up that your candidate is being less than truthful, which is valuable information before you take someone on. So on balance, it’s probably still worth asking for references and reviewing them carefully – just don’t expect them to do too much for you.
Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 08452 303050 end_of_the_skype_highlighting Fax: 08452 303060 Website: www.irenicon.co.uk
Member since: 23rd January 2012
My passions in life are employment law, argentine tango and gardening; not necessarily in that order.
I love improvising a solution against complex rules and making it look good - whether it is in business...