Are employers obliged to provide references for a former employee?

No — employers are not obliged by law to provide references.

However, there may be an exception if it is usual practice in the industry to provide them, and the worker is unlikely to find work without one.

Are there risks to the employer in providing references?

Yes — an employer must ensure that what they say in the reference is true; if not, they may be liable to the former employee for defamation, or to the former employee or prospective employer for negligence.

To avoid risky situations, an employer’s reference should contain accurate information, not defame former employees, and keep any negative comments to oral communication.

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