Dh being turned down for job due to references?

(42 Posts)

I hope you can offer some guidance.

Last July, dh had an accident at work. Because he didn't follow procedure properly, they classed this as gross misconduct. On appeal he was re-instated by the owner of the company at head office. The manager who sacked him was a depot manager. Without being horrid about him he was on a power trip. We sought advice from a solicitor who said the worst was a warning for not reporting the accident properly as they had no procedures in place on the day dh worked which was alone. Dh had a case for unfair dismissal.

Anyways his accident resulted in major leg surgery being brought forward. His was sacked, reinstated and had major surgery within 16 days. This followed a period of 5 months off and he is currently using up holidays before going back next week.

He doesn't want to go back so has started to look for other employment. He applied and went far down the recruitment process with another company. They said they were confident they could place him at either of the 2 cities we live between. They would come back to him shortly.

I should say at interview they asked about defences. Dh was completely honest and told them about his current employer. Tried really hard to say he had learnt from the experience and not to slag them off. He said he would rather they didn't apply for references but understood if they wanted to.

So he hears today that he is not being offered a position due to the managers discretion. They we very short with him. He is very worried that they have applied for and received an awful reference.

He is part way through interviews with another firm and is hoping to hear about formal interview any day now. Is the anything he should do differently? Anything he should say? He doesn't want to stop people applying for references but if his current employer are sticking the boot in - which we don't put past them, we are stuck. Help if you can!

YouOldSlag Wed 23-Jan-13 14:48:00

Ooh I like Cora's idea!

SolomanDaisy Wed 23-Jan-13 14:55:58

References are only exempt from SAR if the request is to the company who gave the reference. If you request it from the company who received it, there is no automatic exemption. It might be worth asking.

Crinkle77 Wed 23-Jan-13 15:16:00

This might be useful:

https://www.gov.uk/work-reference

MissMarplesMaid Wed 23-Jan-13 21:00:49

I might be wrong here but I wonder if your DH is dwelling too much on the whole reference problem? What you describe sounds very negative and backward looking.

In your DH's situation I would be more looking to the future. To the question 'why is he wanting to leave his current employer' my answer would be more along the lines that the time off recovering has given him time to reflect and consider his future and now he is looking for the better opportunities which a much better firm such as acme Ltd will give blah blah blah...

Employers arent daft, the more fuss you make about something the more they think there is something to worry about.

Nobody leaves a job because they love it. People leave because they want something better, in that your DH is no different.

IME employers arent Machiavellian. Requests for references go to the HR department. My old company didnt allow managers to give personal references. This never caused a problem, I asked other people for these.

That is a valid point. Thank you. They have no HR department so if the manager who sacked him got hold of the reference letter he could stick the boot in. Tis is the biggest concern but I see whee you are coming from.

What he doesn't want to happen is for him to be turned down for not mentioning the last 6 months and not being honest if the fall out comes out in his reference. I do agree he needs to concentrate on the future though and be positive.

VBisme Wed 23-Jan-13 22:12:53

I don't think it's unusual to ask a prospective employer not to contact your current employer until a firm offer has been given an accepted (subject to references).
Whatever the situation you shouldn't mention any issue with current employer, it certainly makes the interviewer question whether to employ you or not.
Most of my previous companies have had a policy of stating the dates and job titles and that's it. An employer can be prosecuted for giving an unfairly negative reference.

I think damages can be claimed if a bad reference is proven but they can't be prosecuted.

Differing opinions here. Not sure what to do now.

TwoFacedCows Wed 23-Jan-13 22:23:37

thanks PolterGoose! i knew it was something like that! grin

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 22:53:08

SolomanDaisy - It is true that the exemption applies specifically if the request is to the giver of the reference. However, guidance from the ICO is that a request to the company receiving the reference may also be refused in a number of circumstances. The important point is that the reference giver's opinion may be regarded as personal data relating to the reference giver. Any factual information included in the reference should be disclosed but the position is less clear for other information.

gregssausageroll - No you cannot claim damages just because a bad reference has been given. As I and others have already pointed out, there is no law against giving a bad reference. Indeed, the reference giver has a duty of care to the potential employer so may be liable to them if they give an incorrect good reference.

You can sue for libel if the reference is inaccurate but you would have to prove that the reference giver acted out of malice. That is very difficult to prove. The reference giver also has a duty of care towards the employee which may give an easier route to claiming damages if the reference is false, but even there you have to show that the reference giver has acted unreasonably or negligently. You won't get damages if they have expressed an honest opinion or reasonably believe that the statements they have made are true.

Tasmania Thu 24-Jan-13 00:36:46

It doesn't have to be just formal references. My last employer used his network of people (same industry and all, not difficult!) to get "verbal" and off the record references about me.

I found my employer's notes about me, and what people said (what do you do, if a computer file happens to have your name on it!). I have to say... VERY INTERESTING. Some people I barely spoke to all of a sudden had opinions they weren't entitled to have. And the people I sort of outshined suddenly sought their vengeance...

SolomanDaisy Thu 24-Jan-13 08:49:07

Yes, ph47bridge, that's why I said there was no automatic exemption, so it might be worth asking.

Due to bad weather being forecast the interview is now today so all we can do is be honest and keep fingers crossed.

MissMarplesMaid Thu 24-Jan-13 12:26:15

Be honest but dont make a big 'thing' about it. Most of the time your DH will be asked about references and by keeping it simple and asking current employer not to be contacted at this stage there is a very good chance that references wont be taken up.

Good luck to your DH

EldritchCleavage Thu 24-Jan-13 12:38:29

It is very often said on MN that it is illegal to give a bad or a closed reference. It isn't. There is no onus on companies to give a basic reference rather than to set out negative statements, it's just that many prefer to in order not to be sued in defamation or negligent misstatement.

OP, since the owner reinstated your DH, would it be a good idea to approach the owner and ask to agree a reference with him that will be the only reference used when prospective employers contact the current employer?

CinnabarRed Thu 24-Jan-13 12:41:08

I can't offer any advice to your DH, but wanted to let you know that my firm (one of the Big 4 professional service firms with 10,000+ employees in the UK) will only give a basic reference no matter whether the leaving employee was good, bad or indifferent. They simply confirm that person X was employed by firm Y between the dates of XX and YY. That's all.

Thanks everyone. Interview went well. Fingers crossed.

Flatbread Thu 24-Jan-13 16:03:35

Great smile Best of luck!!!

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