Whilst we are fairly confident that not many people would give the name of a referee from a company that they didn’t do well at – it has happened. So, what do you do when the phone rings (the preferred way to do references in NZ) and you are asked to give a reference for an employee that didn’t perform well at your company (although they obviously thought they did!) and perhaps one that you had to ask to leave…
There is no legal obligation to give an employee a reference, unless it is specifically covered in your employment agreement with that employee.
It's important to note and understand that an employer can only release personal information about an employee to a third party if authorised by the employee to do so.
If a former employee is seeking a new job, they will probably give your name and telephone number to any prospective employer. If they have told you that they have given your details to a prospective employer, for the purpose of you providing a reference, then you are required to advise the following:
• that you employed that person
• the position the employee held
• how long they worked for you
You do not need to make any other comment. However if you do wish to comment you should:
If you have been unhappy with the employee’s work and do not want to provide a reference, it may be helpful for you to tell the employee why, so that they are saved any potential embarrassment. This should also avoid any difficult conversations that you have to have with potential employers.
If you need advice or help regarding references, please call Tarryn on 027 530 1255.
Tarryn has worked in HR for over 14 years and loves to solve problems. She is a self professed employment relations junkie! She lives in Auckland with her dedicated husband, tireless toddler and three special needs cats.