References – What can my old employer tell my new employer?

Most new employers will ask for references before confirming a job offer especially from your most recent employer but what if you were dismissed from your previous role, can your old employer tell your new employer that you were dismissed? The simple answer is yes but it must be factually correct.

The subject of providing references for previous employees has become a tricky subject of late as employers are concerned about the risks for potential liability for claims including discrimination, defamation, breach of contract and negligent misstatement. In light of this it is increasingly common for employers to provide standard factual references limited to dates of employment, job title and salary; in other words they will just confirm that you worked for them and will not provide any opinions on your suitability for work.

Some employers even refuse to provide references as there is no legal requirement to do so unless they are working within a regulated industry such as the financial or the care sectors.

A previous employer should avoid giving their own personal opinion or subjective views on your suitability for work especially if they are not supported by facts. References should be accurate and consistent to avoid the risk of allegations of discrimination or breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.
If you are aware that you may get an unfavourable reference from a previous employer it’s best to be upfront and honest with your new potential employer. Don’t be tempted to hide or provide false information as there is a good chance that you will be found out and it would be deemed as a breach of trust which could lead to the termination of your contract of employment even after new employment has started. If you need more support or have questions on this, download the HR Solver app today and chat with our HR experts to assist you in making the best of a new application or get support to challenge your previous employer on their poor reference.

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