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References (where provided) policy

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Use this if you require a robust and practical references (where provided) policy.

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How long to understand and implement this policy?
5 mins
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What is a References (where provided) policy?

The purpose of this References (where provided) policy is to provide you with a flexible and customisable document to serve as a robust and effective starting point for you.

By using our References (where provided) policy, you can streamline your process, maintain consistency and accuracy, and save time, and it can be easily adapted to fit your specific scenario.

Best practice timescale for this to be issued
When should this policy be issued?
During onboarding / after changes / planned refresher
Issued by who, to whom
Who should issue this policy, and to whom?
Internally issued to appropriate recipients in your Company
Applicable legal jurisdictions
In which jurisdictions can this policy be used?
Great Britain & NI (United Kingdom), Worldwide

References (where provided) Policy


This policy is designed to assist employees who receive a reference request for a former or current employee.


This policy is applicable to all employees of [Company].

General principles

Receiving a request for a reference

It is [Company]'s policy that references for a former or current employee may be given only by the [employee's manager or, in his/her absence, a senior manager]. No other person in [Company] is permitted to provide a written or verbal reference about current or former employees. Any requests for a reference should be passed to the [employee's manager or, in his/her absence, a senior manager].

Providing the information requested

[Any references provided must be in writing.] The reference should explain that it is [Company]'s policy to respond to requests for information in a standard format. The only factual information that may be provided is [list the appropriate points and expand on them as necessary]:

  • [the dates of the employee's employment with [Company];
  • the employee's job title;
  • a short description of the employee's key job duties and level of responsibility;
  • whether or not the individual held responsibility for staff, money, equipment, computer operations, etc;
  • any jobs that the employee held within [Company] prior to the job held at the date of termination (or the current job), and for how long he/she performed these jobs;
  • whether or not any disciplinary warnings have been issued to the employee during the last 12 months or, if the reference is for a former employee, in the 12 months prior to his/her leaving [Company];
  • where the employee has left [Company], the reason for termination of employment, for example resignation, redundancy, or the expiry of a fixed-term contract.]

The individual providing the reference must not provide personal opinions about the individual's performance or conduct. It is the responsibility of the author of the reference to ensure that the information provided is true, accurate, fair and not misleading.

A disclaimer should be included in the reference making it clear that, while the information provided is, to the best of [Company]'s knowledge, completely accurate, [Company] cannot accept any liability for decisions based on it.

[Once completed, all references should be checked by [HR], which will forward the reference to the prospective employer.]

The reference must be marked "private and confidential" and "for the addressee only". [It should be sent by post to the prospective employer, rather than by email, to maintain confidentiality.]

Individual requests to see the reference

The author of the reference may allow the employee to see the draft reference before it is provided to the prospective employer, but this is not obligatory.

Dealing with enquiries raised by the prospective employer

If the author of the reference receives an enquiry from the prospective employer for clarification of information given in the reference, the author must ensure that he/she does not go beyond the content of the reference in the information provided. Any such enquiry should, where possible, be dealt with in writing to avoid any subsequent confusion. If the enquiry is dealt with over the telephone, a written record of the information provided must be made at the time of the conversation.

Retaining a copy of the reference

[The [HR Departent | employee's manager]] should retain a copy of the reference/written record of any subsequent enquiries securely for [six/12/18 months] in [the employee’s personnel file]. Thereafter, the reference should be disposed of securely.

This policy [does not] form[s] part of your terms and conditions of employment.

Version: [1.0]

Issue date: [date]

Author: [name, job title]

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References (where provided) policy
references (where provided) policy