A False Positive: Employment Reference Checking
The humble employment reference is an indispensable part of recruitment, but HR managers should be aware of risks.
While the vast majority of employers take the provision of reference checking seriously and provide fair and beneficial documents, a misleading or erroneous reference can be costly. A candidate may require more training than their reference suggests, or may be entirely unsuited for the position. A derogatory reference, meanwhile, can considerably harm an individual’s job prospects. Given the vulnerability of workers and prospective employers to inaccurate references, it is perhaps surprising that employers have few legal obligations to provide honest references.
Duty to give a reference?
If an employer is reluctant to provide a positive reference, they may be tempted to not provide one at all. Sometimes this will be the best option: the employer does not openly criticise a former employee, the worker is not burdened by a poor report and prospective employers are free to draw their own inferences.
However, there are limited instances where employers may be obliged to provide a reference. In Australia, there