Do I Have to Give a Reference to a Former Employee? Standard Reference Letters

As an employer, you might be asked for a reference for a member of staff who is leaving or who has left your business. You’re not obliged to provide one in either of these cases and you can actually refuse to provide a reference. I covered all the finer points of this issue on a previous blog, which you can read here.

In this blog I thought I would give you details of Standard Reference letters than you can use, if you’re asked for a reference.

Dear Name of Person asking for reference

We refer to your letter of [date], in which you requested that we provide you with [details of information requested].

Unfortunately we are unable to comment as the organisation operates a policy of not providing written or verbal references for individuals.

Yours sincerely

Your Name

It’s a simple as that!

Whether you follow this policy or not, it is important that you take a consistent approach to this issue and treat all reference requests in the same way. If you usually respond to requests for references but do not do so on a particular occasion, you run the risk of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, which provides protection against discrimination to employees, job applicants and former employees.

If you want to provide a basic reference, here is a sample letter you can use.

Private and confidential – for the addressee only

Dear Name of Person asking for reference

[Name of your employee] [was/has been] employed by [name of your company] from [date] to [date]/since [date] as [job title].

[His/Her] role involve[d/s] [short description of the employee’s key job duties and level of responsibility].

[Name of employee] left the organisation [insert reason for termination of employment, e.g. resignation, redundancy or the expiry of a fixed-term contract].

[Insert any other appropriate points in accordance with the organisation’s policy on giving references.]

While the information provided is, to the best of [name of our organisation]’s knowledge, completely accurate, [name of your organisation] cannot accept any liability for decisions based on it.

Yours sincerely

Your Name

If you’re unsure about any aspect of providing a reference (or not) please do contact me for a quick chat, to make sure you’re doing the right thing and so that you can avoid any future problems.

Source of letters: