There is general debate in the employment market surrounding referencing. Should we reference check? What information is it actually giving me on the candidate? Surely if my recruitment process is thorough enough and I am confident in the candidate I shouldn’t need to spend time reference checking?
As HR professionals we would always recommend referencing. Although it is growingly only providing you with the basic information confirming dates of employment and job titles this alone can provide you with confirmation on the information contained within a candidates CV or application.
Legally there is no general entitlement to receive a reference from an employer but it is recommended and best practice to do so. If you do decide not to provide references, the policy should be applied consistently to avoid allegations of discrimination or victimisation from employees not receiving a reference.
If you decide to provide references then you have a duty of care to exercise reasonable care and skill. That is why many companies will now provide a standard reference response. The information contained needs to be truthful, accurate and fair. It should not provide a misleading impression of the employee. There have been cases that have gone to Employment Tribunal so it is essential that this is done correctly. Claims for defamation or malicious falsehood are also possible if the reference contains information which is untrue or which disparages the employee. A failure to exercise reasonable care and skill in providing references has been held to be a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence (a duty which forms part of every employment contract), providing employees with the basis for constructive dismissal claims.
It is also important to consider if you or any of your employees have been asked for a personal reference. You could still find yourself liable for the reference. This includes LinkedIn or other social media and the giving of recommendations or testimonials, unless it makes clear that such references are not given on its behalf.
Therefore as an employer we would recommend a Referencing policy that is incorporated into your policies and procedures. If you would like further information on developing a reference policy/procedure and what this should incorporate then please do not hesitate to contact SimpleHR.