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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46803
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I resigned from my job and they were investigating me .

Resolved Question:

I resigned from my job and they were investigating me for theft. I have got a new job but they want a reference from my previous employer - what can I expect them to say in the reference
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Have they said they are happy to provide a reference?
Customer: I have not asked them. I have to supply two references for my current job and was just wondering what they are allowed to say in the reference about the inquiry if anything!
Customer: Should I send an email to my previous employer stating that I am putting them down as one of my references
Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied.

Whilst there is no legal obligation on employers to provide a reference for past employees, if they choose to do so they will automatically owe them a duty to take reasonable care in its preparation. This requires the employer to be accurate in the contents of the reference and ensure it is based on facts, rather than just personal opinion.

Certain principles have been established through case law over the years and the main points can be summarised as follows:

1. In the case of Bartholomew v London Borough of Hackney the employer provided a reference which contained details of disciplinary proceedings which were pending at the time the employee left. The court decided that the employer had not breached its duty of care by providing such a reference as it would have a duty to provide a reference that is true, accurate and fair and does not present facts so as to give a misleading impression overall. Therefore, if the employer had not included details of the disciplinary proceedings it would have failed in its duty to the prospective employer to provide a reference that was not unfair or misleading.

2. In the later case of Cox v Sun Alliance Life Ltd the employer provided a reference that contained details of an employee's alleged misconduct. However, they did not properly investigate these before providing the reference and the employee challenged the information in it. The court decided that an employer will be negligent in providing a reference that refers to an employee’s misconduct unless the employer had carried out an investigation and had reasonable grounds for believing that the misconduct had taken place. This can be applied to other matters forming part of a reference, not just issues of misconduct.

So if it is obvious that incorrect facts have been relied on, the contents are false or misleading, there may be a potential case for negligence against the employer and this matter could be taken further by seeking compensation in the county court for any damages caused.

In the meantime you may approach the employer to advise them that you wish to use them for a reference and give them advance warning of this – you do not have to though so that is entirely up to you.

I hope this clarifies your position? If you could please quickly let me know that would be great, as it is important for us to keep track of customer satisfaction. Thank you

Customer: thank you. Fingers crossed no reference will be made to the inquiry as I left before disciplinary action was taken.
Ben Jones :

Hope so too!

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46803
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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