How to deal with reference requests
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- Be aware that there is generally no legal obligation to provide a reference, but that there are some exceptions, such as when dealing with regulated financial roles.
- Ensure that anyone providing references on behalf of the organisation is aware of the need to take steps to ensure that the reference is true, accurate and fair.
- Have a written policy on how references should be handled and who within the organisation can provide references.
- If adopting a policy of providing only limited information, stick to that policy for all references.
- Consider how to deal with requests for personal references.
- On receipt of a request for a reference, check whether or not there is a settlement agreement in place in respect of the individual governing the contents of any reference.
- Check that the individual has consented to the provision of a reference.
- Get explicit consent from the individual if providing sensitive personal data.
- Consider carefully how to deal with negative information such as details of disciplinary issues.
- Include a disclaimer if providing more than a very simple facts-only reference.
- Mark the reference "strictly private and confidential" and "to be opened by the addressee only".
- Ensure that there are record-keeping processes in place to allow for the provision of references on former employees.