Are you entitled to a job reference?
ONE of the parts of the hiring process that often causes anxiety for the jobseeker is the question of references. There is usually uncertainty over whether they will be taken, who can give them and what can be said.
We asked our legal advisor – employment lawyer Philip Landau – some of the questions that most concern our readers. Here's what Philip had to say.
Does your employer have to give you a reference?
If you want to leave your job you'll probably want a reference. It is good practice for your employer to provide a reference, but they are not legally obliged to do so, except in some regulated industries like financial services.
Dyson DC50i - Bagless upright vacuum cleaner - BALL Technology -...View details
Thisi is Dyson's smallest upright vacuum cleaner with the performance of a full size upright machine. The DC50i has Dyson's most advanced cleaner head technology and 2 Tier RadialTM cyclones.
Terms: LIMITED STOCK OFFER. FREE delivery to most UK postcodes - Next working day dispatch.
Contact: 01664 491439
Valid until: Monday, May 27 2013
Assuming you do get a reference, what will be in it?
Almost 75 per cent of references that I have seen are factual – namely your name, dates of employment, and job title. Sometimes, the reason for dismissal is included.
It is unlikely that any negative inference will be drawn from such a limited reference, especially as many employers adopt this practice. It does mean though that you may not be able to rely on a full and glowing reference to encourage a new employer to offer you a new job.
You can try and negotiate for a full reference and some employers may well give this anyway. If your employer does give you a reference, they are under a legal duty to make sure they are accurate and not misleading to your future employer. This means that if, for example, you were disciplined when you worked for the employer who is giving you a reference, this may form part of the reference.
Can I see a copy of my reference?
Once you start working for a new employer you can ask them for a copy of any reference that they have been given from your previous employers. This is a right that you have under the Data Protection Act, but your old employers are not obliged to provide a copy.
What are the practical pitfalls I need to be aware of?
If you have had long periods of absences due to illness, you will not want this reflected on your reference, so it is best to find out what your employer's policy is on the provision of references and ensure that sickness records are not included.
You also need to make sure that your employer is setting out your correct job title in the reference. I have seen many instances where this is not accurately reflected.
You may not be happy for the reason for your termination of employment to be stated on the reference – for example if you were made redundant or as a result of a performance review. It is best that this is addressed before or at the time of your departure and where a direct relationship still exists between you and your employer.
Finally you need to make sure you are aware of who your new employer needs to apply to for your reference. This is usually the HR department, but not every company has one and it is always better to get an individual name to pass on.
Jobsite have partnered with specialist employment law solicitor Philip Landau, to bring you expert advice on your rights in all key areas of your working life. As a Jobsite user you are also entitled to receive a free initial consultation on all employment law issues from Philip.
Philip can help with a number of legal problems; perhaps you feel your employer isn't following their legal responsibilities, you believe you have been dismissed unfairly or you are unsure about clauses in your contract. Once he knows your specific situation he can let you know what your rights are and what action you can take.
Philip Landau is a solicitor and partner, specialising in employment law, in the London legal firm Landau Zeffertt Weir. The information and any commentary on the law on jobsite.co.uk is provided free of charge for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying upon it, is assumed by either Jobsite or Landau Zeffertt Weir. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a solicitor about your case.
For more careers advice, visit jobsite.co.uk.