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What Are Your Key Obligations In Providing A Reference?

Posted: Thursday, 8 March 2018 @ 11:39

Given the difficulty that many employment lawyers have in trying to secure good references (or even just the bare minimum factual ones) for their clients it is indeed newsworthy that charity, Save The Children kept quiet about the "inappropriate behaviour" allegations against its former CEO and made no mention of this in its employee reference and it encouraged him to get a new job..

The charity admitted that an internal investigation found Mr Forsyth had made “unsuitable and thoughtless” comments to the women in 2011 and 2015.

Unicef has confirmed that it was given a reference by Save the Children before he was hired in 2016 that made no mention of the internal probes into Mr Forsyth.

But what are the obligations of the employer in these circumstances to provide a reference?  

The employer is under a duty to take reasonable care in preparing the reference, ensuring that it is true, accurate and fair. It is also important to ensure it’s not misleading.

However, there is no obligation for the reference to be comprehensive, nor for any particular detail to be provided.

If the employer provides incorrect information in a reference, it could lead to a claim for “negligent misstatement”. Before deciding liability, a court would consider whether a reasonably prudent employer would have expressed those opinions   

In this case it was not what was said but not what was said and as consequence it does look like negligence on the part of the employer. 


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