Providing a reference

A Court of Appeal decision provides some welcome clarity for businesses on the duty of care they owe to former employees when they provide a reference. The court held that a former employer had not been in breach of its duty of care when it provided a reference that referred to allegations against a former employee but made it clear that they had not been investigated.

The employer was not negligent as the reference was true, accurate and fair. Employers owe a duty of care to the recipient of the reference (the new employer), as well as the employee or former employee who is the subject of the reference.

When an employee leaves in circumstances where there are questions over their performance or conduct, employers should disclose such issues but make it clear that they have not been investigated and that no assumptions can be made.

This checklist sets out the key issues a business should consider before providing a reference for an employee or former employee.

For further information, please contact our Employment Team.

Contact us

O'Neill Patient Solicitors LLP
Chester House, 2 Chester Road, Hazel Grove,  Stockport, Cheshire, SK7 5NT


0161 694 3000 / 0161 483 8555



0844 576 2140 (we do not accept service by fax or email)