This document sets out our policy on the seeking and giving of references.
Our standard application forms which all candidates are required to complete, request contact details of referees and clarification of the relationship to the candidate. Open references (those which are addressed “to whom it may concern”) will not be accepted as part of the recruitment process.
It is the organisation’s policy to ensure that all new employees are only offered positions after LAL has received satisfactory references from two previous employers over the previous three years’ employment history. Where the employee has had only one job in the previous three years, then only one employment reference will be necessary. If the position involves working with children, referees will be asked if they believe the applicant is suitable to work with children.
LAL will make all offers of employment conditional upon those references being satisfactory to the organisation. Other than in exceptional circumstances, new recruits will not be permitted to start work for us until we have received their references. The HR Administration Manager will be responsible for writing the reference request letters.
When giving a reference, the organisation is under a duty of care to ensure that what is written is accurate, factual and not misleading. For this reason, references in respect of current or former employees may only be provided by the HR Administration Manager.
Although there is no legal requirement to do so, the organisation will generally agree to provide written references in respect of employees who are leaving, or who have previously left the organisation’s employment in the last 6 years.
Prior to an employee’s termination date with the organisation, the HR manager will ask the employee whether it is his or her wish that the organisation should provide written references if asked to do so in the future by a prospective employer (or other organisation, for example a bank or building society). A note indicating the employee’s response will be placed on the employee’s file.
The organisation does not permit individual managers to provide oral or written references in respect of any current or former employee. All requests for references must be passed promptly to the HR Administration Manager who will ensure that an accurate reference is provided in line with the organisation’s policy.
When a reference is requested, the organisation will respond by letter/email. The reference will contain only factual information, and will not state personal opinions about the employee’s performance or conduct.
The reference will include information about:
- the start and finish date of the employee’s employment with the organisation
- the employee’s job title or designation and salary.
- other jobs that the employee held within the organisation prior to the job he or she held at the date of termination,
- a statement confirming the circumstances of the termination of the employee’s employment, i.e. whether it occurred as a result of the employee’s resignation, dismissal, redundancy or expiry of a fixed term contract.
Only information that is known to the employee will be included in the reference.
If any employee should receive a telephone call requesting information about a current or ex- employee, they should ask the caller to contact the HR Administration Manager directly.
Requesting References – New Staff
Line managers should:
- inform all job applicants who are interviewed at the time of the interview that the organisation will require satisfactory references from two previous employers (or a period of at least 3 years). If the position involves working with children referees will be asked if they believe the applicant is suitable to work with children.
- request permission of applicants to apply for references prior to a job offer so as to hasten the recruitment process
- seek the applicant’s consent as to the names of at least two proposed referees.
(This information is stated on the application form)
Managers must on no account attempt to make “secret” enquiries about a prospective employee, whether on the telephone or otherwise. Every individual has the right to know and to be asked for his or her consent before any check is made on any aspect of his or her background.
If a reference is received which contains any negative or adverse comments about the individual, the organisation will not assume that this information is accurate, nor that any information provided by the candidate was inaccurate or deliberately misleading. Instead the organisation will seek further information, either by contacting the candidate and inviting him or her to a further interview, or by seeking his or her consent to apply for further references.
If a colleague/ex-employee asks an employee of LAL to personally supply a character reference for them, this must not be written on a corporate letterhead and the address stated by the person providing the character reference should be their private home address
Written references may be verified by telephone by the HR Administration Manager to help prevent fraudulent references.
Requesting References – Returning Staff
Where a staff member returns to LAL, and this period of time is two years or less from the previous departure from LAL, then a verbal reference, documented, signed and dated by the person conducting the reference, will suffice. This will require a phone call to the previous employer to establish:
- reason for leaving
- any disciplinary action taken
- would they re-employ the person
- any reason why the person should not work with children
Where you believe there may be a doubt as to the identity of the previous employer, you must do some other checks with the employer. Please refer to the HR Admin Manager for assistance.
If the re-employment of the person is after a break of more than 2 years, then please use the process for New Staff
Access to References under the Data Protection Act 1998
Where the organisation has provided a written reference on behalf of a former employee, the person will have no right of access to any copy of that document held on the organisation’s filing systems.
Where, however, the organisation holds references about a new employee or current or past job applicant in a file that have been received from another employer, then that person may have the right of access to the file under the subject access provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Access to a received reference is dependent on whether disclosure can be made without disclosing the identity of the author of the reference.
The organisation will seek to disclose the reference unless there is a sound reason not to do so, i.e. if it is clear that disclosure would amount to a breach of confidentiality.
It is the organisation’s policy to allow current employees access to their personal files without charge once per year. If an employee wishes to access his or her file more than once in any 12 month period, the organisation reserves the right to levy a charge of £10.
Similarly, any rejected job applicant who makes a written request for access to his or her recruitment file will be charged a £10 fee.