HR file: Reference point

Rhiannon Jenkins considers the key points when providing or asking for a reference following new Acas guidance

There is no general legal obligation for an employer to give a reference to an employee. However, it is common for references to be provided and employers should ensure that they have an internal policy stating what information will be contained within the reference. This should be applied consistently to avoid potential allegations of discrimination or victimisation.

An exception to the above arises when employers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority; these industries are required by law to give a reference. There is a general duty during recruitment for firms to satisfy themselves that potential employees are ‘fit and proper’ to perform the role with references going back five years.

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