Reference Checking: HR Breakfast Club June Summary

This month, we discussed the importance of reference checking. Ian Meagher chaired the meeting with special guest Jeremy Boland, Principal Consultant at Gillian Beaumont Legal Recruiting giving some insight on reference checking:

  1. What is appropriate information to release, and ask for, as part of a reference enquiry?
    In all cases, relevance is key. If the information is relevant to how a potential employee may ultimately perform in an applied for position, that is essentially what the potential new employer should be looking for. Asking questions that relate to a potential employee’s values is permissible, provided it is within reason and does not extend into any discriminatory areas.
  2. Do I need to provide a reference, if asked?
    No.  In fact, you may be doing the person a disservice by doing so. Whilst a possibly uncomfortable conversation to have, there may be times when the appropriate answer to being asked to provide a reference is to flag that, for whatever reasons you may hold, the person may wish to consider asking another person to speak for them

There was also a short video case study about the importance of reference checking. Watch it again.


Q. Can I direct an employee to not provide a reference for an outgoing employee?

A. Provided the direction is reasonably made (which, in general terms, should be so), such a direction will be lawful.  The reason why such a direction should be reasonable for an employer to make is because if a current employee gives a reference as an agent of your business, then it will reflect poorly on your business if it turns out to be inaccurate.  Requiring control of such decisions to vest with the directors, owners or such other appropriate senior staff, is thus reasonable.

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