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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Hello! I had a four-week summer job as an EFL teacher last

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I had a four-week summer job as an EFL teacher last summer, and I enjoyed that very much and worked really hard. Unfortunately, I got a bad reference.

I have worked as an EFL teacher for 15 yrs and never had any complaints, but this school claimed that my planning and delivery of lessons were unsatisfactory.

Due to this, I am now unable to find a job in the UK. I have had two job offers but they withdrew them after having contacted the school I worked for last summer.

The course director refuses to get in touch with me and they will also not give me any more details. The thing is, my lessons were observed (normal practice) and I received good reports during the four weeks!

I also provided a full portfolio of 4 weeks of planned lessons, and they did not have one single negative comment while I was there.

In the teachers' manual they state that all teachers are entitled to support and those teachers who need help lesson planning etc will be assisted by their supervisors. I was told by my line-manager that my lessons were fine and that I was a good teacher!

Is there anything I can do? It now seems that my career is ruined, I have only taught in other European countries before, and in the UK they want UK references so it doesn't matter that I have excellent references from other schools.

I'd just be grateful for advice.

Best Regards
Joanna Vandenbring

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What are your specific queries about this please?

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 the preparation of the reference. This basically requires the employer to be accurate in the contents of the reference and ensure it is based on facts, rather than personal opinion.

Certain difficulties may arise, depending on the circumstances that have led to a particular reference. For example, in the case of Bartholomew v London Borough of Hackney the court decided that the employer was not in breach of its duty of care to the employee by providing a reference which contained details of disciplinary proceedings which were pending when the employee left. An employer is under a duty of care 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.

If some of the above conditions are met, the employer is unlikely to be acting unlawfully or negligently and can provide the reference in question. However, if it is obvious that incorrect facts have been relied on, the contents are false or evidently misleading, there may be a potential case for negligence against the employer and this matter could be taken further by seeking compensation due to negligence in the civil courts. This is not always an easy claim though as it would be for you to prove that the employer had acted negligently in providing their reference.

I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you
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