Bad Reference From An Employer?

Judith Thompson

References are incredibly important. There are very few employers these days who take on an employee on without checking their references. A bad reference could mean you lose your new job. But what can you do about it?

It has been established law in this country since 1999 that an employer’s reference must be “true, fair and accurate”. Unfortunately, employers do not always stick to these rules. 

What Are The Duties of An Employer When Giving References?

These are the most important points you need to know about references from an employer:

  • There is no general duty upon an employer to provide a reference, unless it is a term of the contract of employment. 
  • If an employer provides a reference for one person, but not another, that could be discrimination.
  • Where a reference is given, it must be true, fair and accurate.
  • Employers are allowed to say in the reference if an employee has been disciplined.

What Can I Do About A Bad Reference?

If your employer has given you a bad reference, which is untrue, unfair or inaccurate, what can you do?

If this applies to you, you can challenge the reference and claim damages from your previous employer. You would have to prove that the reference was misleading, that it had a negative effect, and that it was prepared negligently. 

In some circumstances, your new or future employer may also have a claim for damages.

What Are The Next Steps?

At Samuels Solicitors, we have a wealth of experience in advising on these matters. We advise employers and employees in Devon and the wider South West region, as well as throughout the UK. 

For Employees: We can check whether the reference you have been given is misleading and advise whether you have a claim for damages.

For Employers: We can advise you about how best to provide references for former employees to ensure that you minimise your risk of having a claim brought against you or your company.

We will always consider with you at an early stage whether we can help you fund your case with our flexible funding arrangements, which can include conditional (no win no fee) agreements. 

Contact us today for a free no obligation discussion about how we can help.