My employer refuses to give me a satisfactory reference, what should I do?

The law relating to the provision of references is developing and somewhat confusing. A conventional view is that, except for certain jobs in the financial field, an employer is not legally required to provide a reference to a new employer. However, there may be an implied duty, especially where it is customary to supply a reference in a particular industry or for particular types of employee. In addition it is now clear that failure to provide a reference as a form of retaliation, because an employee has used, or threatened to use, the law against the employer, may be victimization and thus lead to an award against the employer under discrimination law. Where a reference is given the employer has an implied duty of care to both the former employee and the prospective employer. Thus the reference must be accurate and compiled with care, otherwise a civil case for negligence might ensue. This obviously means that matters which are not favourable to the ex-employee may be included in the reference.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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