Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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Are employers obliged to provide a reference for departing employees?

Sam Purvis, Managing Director at The Compass Partnership, HR, employment law and learning & development specialists, discusses references and whether or not an employer is obliged to provide one to an employee who is leaving.

 

Are employers obliged to provide a reference for departing employees? f
Sam Purvis

As a general rule, there is no legal obligation to provide a reference for employees leaving for a new job,; employers can decline to provide a reference if they wish to. But knowing whether to provide a reference or not and what information to include can often cause confusion and concern.

There are, however some exceptions to this rule. For example, certain roles in the financial services sector or candidates applying for a position at an academy or maintained school in England, where a reference is obligatory. 

If there is an express term in the contract of employment to provide a reference for a departing employee, employers should oblige when requested although providing such an express term is entirely a choice for employers and not a legal requirement.

Complying with GDPR and Data Protection laws

Employers must ensure that they comply with UK GDPR and Data Protection legislation, as providing a reference will generally involve processing and sharing personal data.

Employers should take care not to provide confidential information about an employee as part of a reference unless they are sure that the employee consents to sharing this data. Particular care must be taken when an employer is processing any special category data – for example, concerning an employee’s sickness absence record. 

What should a reference include?

The employer should ensure that the information contained in the reference is true, accurate and fair, and does not give a misleading impression. An inaccurate or misleading reference could lead to a potential claim for misrepresentation. 

A reference will usually include factual information, such as the dates of employment, the job title and the role undertaken. The prospective employer might also ask for additional information such as timekeeping, the reason for leaving, disciplinary records and performance and absence records. They often also request information such as the employee’s honesty and trustworthiness. However, care should be taken when including information of this nature as it can often be viewed as the personal opinion of whoever is giving the reference.

What should not be included in a reference?

The reference should ideally be limited to the referee’s specific knowledge of the employee, rather than speculation about their suitability for the new role and personal character. 

If an employer provides an inaccurate reference, includes some information that the employee did not know about, such as an impending conduct or capability allegation which results in the job offer being withdrawn, or declines to provide one because of a protected characteristic. The employee may have justification to seek damages and/or submit a tribunal claim, including a claim for discrimination in certain circumstances. 

Minimizing the risks of giving a reference

To minimize this risk of disputes occurring and to maintain fairness and consistency, employers should ideally have a reference policy in place to ensure that proper consideration is given by all people managers before deciding whether to provide a reference or not and what information to include.

All references should be marked as private and confidential to the addressee only and should ideally contain a disclaimer of liability on the part of the organization and also the manager providing the reference.

To find out how The Compass Partnership can support your business with all its HR needs, email Sam directly at sam@thecompasspartnership.co.uk or for more information on The HR Toolkit, visit www.compasshrtoolkit.com

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The views and opinions expressed on ATF Professional are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the editor, publisher or staff of ATF Professional.

 

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.