The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has issued guidance informing job applicants and employers of the legal requirements appertaining to employment references.
Where a reference is provided, it must be accurate and fair. It must not include misleading or inaccurate information and should avoid giving subjective opinions or comments that are not supported by facts. Employers who ask for references must handle them fairly and consistently.
The topics covered by the guidance include:
- Does an employment reference have to be provided?
- What can an employment reference include?
- When are employment references needed?
- Job offers and references;
- Can an employer give a bad reference?
- Resolving problems with references.
It is wise for employers to have a policy in place to help them overcome the risk of claims of a breach of the law when handling reference requests or references provided by a former employer.
The Acas guidance can be found at http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=5072.