For most people, references are often asked for as part of a job application. There is usually no legal obligation to provide a reference however this helps the future employer get a more accurate picture about the person they are considering employing. Employers who provide references must make them fair and accurate and they must handle them fairly and consistently.
Johnson Underwood has provided an insight into the truth regarding references to help gain a better understanding of what they are and how they should be handled.
An employment reference gives important information to a potential new employer that helps them to decide if a candidate is suitable for a role. Anybody can look good on paper and even in an interview, but this doesn’t always provide an accurate picture.
A previous employer can usually choose if they want to provide a reference or not and if they do, how much information they want to provide. Previous employers may provide a few basic facts about the job applicant such as their name and the dates that they worked there and nothing more. However, some companies are happy to provide a more detailed reference. Only certain industries such as those regulated by the Financial Services Authority are required to give a reference by law.
Employment references can also provide answers to specific questions the potential employer has asked about the applicant not usually given as basic facts, like absence levels and confirming the reason for leaving, details about the persons skills and abilities and details about character and strengths and weaknesses.
A reference must be a true, accurate and fair reflection of the job applicant. When opinions are provided, they should be based on facts. Personal references can sometimes be provided by individuals who know the job applicant such as a teacher. References should not include irrelevant personal information. References can be required at any stage of the recruitment process. Job applications should say if references will be required and at what stage of the recruitment process they will be needed. Employers must only seek a reference from a candidate’s current employer with their permission.
If a job applicant is offered a job there are two types of job offer that can be made:
• A conditional job offer. This can be withdrawn if the applicant doesn’t meet the employer’s condition for example, satisfactory references.
• An unconditional job offer. Once an unconditional offer is made this cannot be withdrawn and if accepted a contract is formed.
Once an employer has received satisfactory references and informed the job applicant an unconditional job offer can be made. Ideally, employees should wait until they get an unconditional offer before handing in their notice.
Some references might show that a candidate is not suitable for the role they are applying for. It might suggest that the person doesn’t have enough experience of relevant responsibilities, that the reason for leaving the current job is different to what the job applicant put in their application, or that the job applicant didn’t describe their current job properly.
The above mainly applies for those candidates seeking permanent work however if you are a temporary worker, you still have to provide references and if you have gaps you will have to provide a character reference too.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding references, Johnson Underwood can help. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01604 626162.