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ACAS guidance on employment references

ACAS has published new guidance aimed at both employers and employees in relation to employment references.

References are often asked for as part of a job application. They are usually used to check that information that has been provided by a prospective employee on their CV or during an interview is true and accurate.

ACAS have published guidance to address frequently asked questions on references including:

  • Does an employment reference have to be provided?
  • Can a previous employer give a bad reference?
  • What can be included in a reference?

It is important to bear in mind that a person providing a reference has a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the information contained in it is true, fair and accurate and that the reference does not give a misleading impression.

It is common now for employers to give factual references only which simply confirm an employee’s position and dates of employment. It is a rare occurrence to see a reference that expresses any opinions about an employee’s performance, conduct or character.

If employers are giving more than just a basic factual reference they need to be careful that they are fair and accurate. An untrue or misleading reference could result in costly claims for defamation, negligent misstatement or even discrimination.

To view the ACAS guidance click here.

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