Duty to provide a reference

Providing a reference

Case law has established that where a business provides a reference, it owes the employee in question a duty to take reasonable care when preparing the reference. A recent High Court decision illustrates how this duty can arise for former employees in a non-reference situation.

The court found an ex-employer liable for comments it made about a former employee in an e-mail to his then employer, which led to his dismissal. The ex-employer realised that its e-mail may have an impact on the employee's employment, so the damage it caused was forseeable. As the content of the e-mail concerned its employment relationship with the employee, there was still sufficient proximity between the parties for a duty to arise, even though six years had elapsed since the relationship ended.

This checklist sets out the key issues a business needs to consider when providing a reference for a current or former employee.

For further information, please contact our Employment Law Team.

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