Best Practice providing references

There is no legal duty to provide a job reference with the exception of financial services industry. If you do provide a reference you have a duty of care:

  • to the employer that requests it
  • individual who is the subject of the reference

Compile the reference with care, contents should be:

  • factual
  • accurate
  • fair and not misleading

There is potential for the individual to sue the employer. If you have had problems with the individual state the facts that are accurate and known to them. You can be sued for failing to disclose important information or making false statements.

Liability towards other employers: Employer owes duty of care to organisation requesting reference, potential for employer to be liable for damages.

Do not provide a reference unless this is the worker’s wish. Keep a record whether or not the ex-employee wants the employer to provide references.


Always seek HR advice/support when providing a reference on behalf of the Trust on Trust letterhead.

Receiving a request for a reference:

A reference for a former or current employee may be given only by the employee’s line manager or, in his/her absence their senior manager or the HR Department.  No other person in the Trust is permitted to reply to the request.

Providing a reference:

  • Include factual information only
  • Dates of employment
  • Job Title
  • Job duties and responsibilities
  • Responsibility for staff, money, etc (if requested)
  • Previous jobs within organisation
  • Disciplinary warnings
  • Reason for termination
  • Include only information known to employee

Do not include:

  • Personal views that cannot be backed up, opinions can be open to bias

Keep a copy of the reference that you have provided on the individual’s personal file.

Character Reference:

The Trust does not provide character references. If you are asked to provide a character reference there should be no mention about the Trust or this to be provided on Trust letterhead.

Agency Worker Reference:

The Trust is not obliged to provide a reference on behalf of an agency worker. This should be provided by the Agency as we are not their employer.