An offer of employment will often be made subject to the receipt of a satisfactory reference from a former employer. Generally speaking, an employer is not obliged to provide a reference for an ex-employee although in practice most organisations will give a limited “factual” reference ie a short paragraph confirming dates of employment and job title. Some employers are willing to provide more information, for example regarding performance, disciplinary record, time-keeping and reason for leaving although there is no requirement to provide these details or for the reference to be comprehensive. However, if the employer does decide to give a reference and provide more than basic details, then it owes the employee a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that the information provided is true, accurate and fair, and does not give a misleading impression.
Disputes over References
Sometimes, when the employee has left a job under a cloud an employer may be accused of voicing its displeasure by giving an inaccurate reference which appears designed to cast aspersions and create difficulties for the employee in their new job. Occasionally, a particularly bad reference can thwart the job search entirely and lead to offers of employment being withdrawn. Depending on the circumstances, an employer’s actions can give rise to various claims including the following:
- Discrimination (including victimisation)
- Breach of Contract
- Malicious Falsehood
- Negligent Misstatement
Claims for Negligent Misstatement
Perhaps the easiest to prove and therefore the most common claim against an employer is that of Negligent Misstatement. Broadly speaking, it must be shown that the employer’s reference was false and given carelessly and led to the employee suffering financial loss.
Why choose OWC?
If you believe that a reference from a former employer is preventing you from finding new employment then we can help you resolve the issue, including persuading the employer to revise the reference and pay compensation.
Contact our Employment Law Solicitors in London, Surrey and Middlesex