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Blog  »  July 2012  »  Reference Letters - Stick to the Facts - Blog
Jul 12

Posted by
Ciaran Loughran

Reference Letters - Stick to the Facts

A recent decision by the Labour Court highlighted once again the importance of having control over the issuing of references to current or past employees.

The case involved the HSE and an employee and the Labour Court found that the employee had a permanent job offer withdrawn by the HSE on foot of an internal reference that contained inaccurate and incorrect information about her work performance and employment record. The Court recommended that the employee be continued in employment by the HSE in a temporary capacity without interruption pending her appointment to the first next suitable and appropriate permanent vacancy that becomes available.

The employee had made efforts to have the reference removed or corrected but it was retained on file and the Court also recommended that the employee be paid a sum of €10,000 in compensation for the delay in dealing with and addressing the issues raised and the distress caused to her.

Employers are advised to think carefully about how they approach the writing of reference letters for current or past employees. It is important to take a consistent approach for all employees and this can best be achieved by ensuring that all letters come from a central source rather than letting individual managers write references for their own staff. It is advisable that the letters are limited to factual information about the employee’s career with the Company such as start date, position, job description, working hours, changes to their role over the course of employment, promotions, locations changes and changes to working hours. Employers should refrain from making any subjective assessment on how the employee performed in their role.


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Posted in Employee Handbook