Fear of litigation killing job references

Feb 16 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Job references are becoming meaningless statements of fact because employers are concerned about being sued if inaccurate, defamatory or misleading information is included in a reference for a past employee.

According to Jenny Cainer, founding director of marketing recruitment Marketing Professionals UK, fear of litigation is making the job reference increasingly worthless.

"We see hundreds of references and most aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Employers are so scared of saying the wrong thing that references are given out by personnel, not line managers, and they are only able to confirm employment dates and statistics such as number of sick days.

"They are not able to comment either way on performance as they were not the direct line manager so ’satisfactory’ is as good as it gets.

"This information is little use to a future employer as they are often non-the-wiser having read such a reference and it can only be to the detriment of the candidate (and future employer) who anticipates they will get a glowing recommendation from their referee.

"The right questions need to be asked in the interview stages to sort the wheat from the chaff. Employers should never solely rely on references to make up their mind about a candidate."