I am posting some advice I have given a member of TEAM (The Employment Agents Movement), and which I have been permitted to share.


Is there any circumstance you can give a bad reference on an employee? The last I knew it was acceptable if it was backed up by facts say there person had a punctuality problem and it was recorded and they were dismissed for poor punctuality, under those circumstances you could and should say something?


The answer to your question is “yes”. There is no law that says that an adverse reference may not be given.

The concern with references is always that there may be some comeback against the person giving the reference, whether from an employer who receives a good reference about an employee, or from the former employee who feels aggrieved by a poor reference and its consequences. Legal action may therefore lie as a result. A reference that is factually accurate will be safer, albeit that a former employee who takes legal action is likely to argue that the person giving the reference was primarily motivated by malice. Claims made on this basis have succeeded.

Care should also be taken to avoid unlawful discrimination or negligence: there was a case a couple of years ago about a lecturer about whom there had been incorrectly said to have been “safeguarding concerns”, and whose job offer was withdrawn.  He won damages against the giver of the reference.

I expect that in practice many former employers/HR departments will prefer to give no reference rather than an unfavourable reference. This may speak for itself. Alternatively, in the circumstance you describe a simple statement of the fact of dismissal and the reason for the dismissal (without going into the facts behind those reasons) is often all that will be given.

Graeme reaches the summit!

November 4th, 2013



10.35am, Monday 4 November 2013.

We have just received a text message fom Graeme Quar.  He is at the top of Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest mountain!

As you all know, Grame is taking part in a  trek to the summit of 4,550 metre Ras Dashen to mark the 25th anniversary of the Send A Cow Charity.  Graeme is one of the small team making the ascent, and has set himself the ambitious target of raising £100 for each of the charity’s 25 years – £2,500.

To date, Graeme has raised almost £2,300 (including Gift Aid): it is not too late (hint!) for you to make a donation: