The reference maze
As an employer of domestic staff you will either have been asked to provide a reference to a staff member leaving your employment, or have asked for a prospective candidate to provide a reference.
The normal procedure on seeking employment is to provide two references, one of these usually being from the candidate’s existing or past employer.
But are you, as that employer, obliged to provide a reference?
As always nothing is quite a simple as it seems.
In essence, the answer is “No” you do not have to (unless the employee’s contract of employment specifies so); however there are potential pitfalls here.
Let us say, you choose not to write a reference. The danger here is that the prospective employer can read into this what they may, and if the candidate is unsuccessful, they can take legal action against you with the Employment Tribal, on the grounds of discrimination.
There are new criteria and assessment procedures being introduced which do however make it less easy for someone to file a spurious complaint.
If you write a bad reference, you could be in line for an action of defamation and being on the wrong end of a damages award if your actions are deemed to have unfairly mitigated against the employee seeking new employment.
If you do write a reference, it has to be truthful and accurate and therefore if a disciplinary action has been taken against the employee, you have a right to mention this.
The employee asking you for the reference does not have the right to see it before it is sent, even though they may ask.
The moral of the story: take professional advice and always use a reputable and experienced specialised employment agency to find your staff and assist with such issues. The Graham Agency fulfils this role professionally.