It’s time to address the problems with issuing employer references

Employer references have changed considerably over the years, both in how they look and also their effectiveness.

It’s very rare now for any company (upwards of a considerable size) to issue a personalised reference for an ex-employee. A personalised reference means one consisting of more than factual details but also comments on things such as their duties and responsibilities, how well they performed tasks or on punctuality.

These types of references you rarely see for two main reasons:

1) If a negative reference is issued for an ex-employee and said reference means the ex-employee doesn’t get a job then they can sue their ex-employer for diminishing their chance of employment.
2) On the flip side, if a glowing reference is issued for an ex-employee and a prospective employer relies upon that reference then they could claim against that ex-employer for being misleading if that worker turns out not suitable.

It is common practice for companies to stick to a risk averse, basic and factual employer reference containing dates of employment and job title.

So employer references themselves have changed a lot, much to the delight of HR professionals and legal counsels but there is still a fundamental flaw with them, and that is ‘how’ they are issued.

Companies are obliged to issue employer references, in fact ‘legally’ obliged in the case of a regulated industry such as financial services, usually up to 6 years after someone has left the company.

And so when a reference request is received, HR have to react to the request and provide the information to the other party, which presents a few issues:

1) It costs the company time and resources to issue a reference for an ex-employee.

HR need to go into their system, extract the information or document and send it back. Depending on how slick the HR system is, this could take anything upwards of 10 minutes to complete, each time. Not much of a problem for a small company, but for one with thousands of employees, or one with high churn of staff, it soon adds up.

2) Issuing employer references is a task that adds zero value to a company

It’s a repetitive and administrative task that deters HR staff from focusing on the important things, like employee development. The only party that benefits is the company requesting the information and the subject of that information, that’s right, the person that no longer works for you!

3) Data protection

There is a GDPR risk to issuing references that can be overlooked, as employer references contain personal information and you can not guarantee the integrity of the requester or what they will do that with that information. Plus, there is also a chance of human error in issuing a reference where information is shared that shouldn’t have been, like a reason for leaving or the salary of the worker in question.

So to HR professionals, I advise you to ask yourself the following three questions:

What risks are me or my team undertaking by issuing employer references manually?

What is it costing me in time and resources to issue employer references?

How could that time and resource be put better use within my department and company?

Once, you’ve done that it’s time to look for a solution and that’s where Fluxible steps in.

Fluxible hosts and releases employer references, so you don’t have to. Requesters can search and get an instant, secure and verified reference, available anytime, any day.

No more interruptions to your HR team and time spent issuing references. Once employees leave, you never need to worry about them again.

Want to find out more and see how it much time and resources it could save your team?

Please click here to arrange a call introductory call with one of the founders.

Callum Blair, Founder & COO

Photo by LinkedIn on Unsplash