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to ask our former-employee's new employer if they were given a reference purporting to be from us.

(115 Posts)
namelessposter Fri 21-Nov-14 10:43:51

Abridged back story: a former sales employee of ours left at the end of Oct on civil terms, after a year of OK (but not great) performance, telling us they were planning on leaving the country to stay with family, and not returning to the industry.

3 weeks later, they have just turned up in an equivalent role with a competitor about 2 miles away. As they are entitled to do.

BUT on their last day with us, they sent an email to their personal mail, with a blank copy of our company headed paper. Then deleted all their sent mail and logged off.

We restore any mail deleted by exiting employees from back-ups as a matter of course, hence why we know this.

Their new employer didn't approach us for a reference. The employee was with us for 14 months, and that they worked with us is well referenced in the public domain. The new employer is a big company, so seems unlikely that their HR dept wouldn't have asked for references. The employee had form for lying to clients (and we are currently clearing up a couple of messes they left behind in this respect, which have come to light after she's left).

Would you ask the new employer if they were given a written reference on our headed paper, purporting to be from us, and if so, let them know it's a fake?

BeCool Fri 21-Nov-14 10:46:12

I wouldn't. It really is up to the new employer to verify any references - if they really cared surely they could simply call you to confirm the written reference?

makeitabetterplace Fri 21-Nov-14 10:46:49

Ooh, that's difficult. I'd contact their HR department to say that you're surprised that you weren't asked for a reference and could they perhaps check if they needed one from you?

AllMimsyWereTheBorogoves Fri 21-Nov-14 10:47:03

Gosh. Tricky situation. I have no advice for you but isn't it normal practice nowadays for a new employer to email HR or the manager and ask for a reply, rather than accepting a printed reference handed over by the prospective employee? Even if PE posted it with a forged signature or emailed a pdf of same, wouldn't that look a bit odd?

TywysogesGymraeg Fri 21-Nov-14 10:47:41

No. Not unless they ask you.

I'd say you'd be opening a whole can or risky worms by admitting you've read a former employee's personal mail, and also risk potential defamation of character.

(Not an expert!)

InfinitySeven Fri 21-Nov-14 10:48:13

No. She could have needed headed paper for any reason. Any decent company would have called you to verify anyway.

Keep out of it.

HaroldsBishop Fri 21-Nov-14 10:49:15

If you wanted to chase this up I'd talk to the former employee first. There might be a reasonable explanation (although I can't think of one!).

namelessposter Fri 21-Nov-14 10:49:26

We did not read her personal mail account. We read her company mail account, sent on our time, under our domain name, and on our PC. Our company privacy policies are explicit that we can and do check work mail accounts.

ReputableBiscuit Fri 21-Nov-14 10:50:47

What other reason could she have needed paper headed with her former employer for?

namelessposter Fri 21-Nov-14 10:50:48

<rasied eyebrow> I can't think of any valid reason whcy she would need a blank copy of our headed paper for her personal use after leaving our employ.

But I tak the point that it is the new employers risk if they don't bother to verify references.

wowfudge Fri 21-Nov-14 10:52:44

Best practice for a prospective employer is to contact previous employers for references themselves. But you don't know what contact details they were given by your former employee, e.g. she could have given a fake email address which purports to be one of your company email addresses. It's down to them to verify the information is correct.

Now that you know this person emailed themself the company letterhead, I think a better course of action - if you really want to do something about it - would be to send the individual a solicitor's letter informing them you have the evidence that they did this and warning that using your company letterhead fraudulently could lead to serious consequences for them. You would need to be prepared to follow that through though.

Johnogroats Fri 21-Nov-14 10:54:37

You would be well within your rights to contact the employee, ask for an explanation and demand that she delete the notepaper. I would send a formal letter asking her to sign to confirm that she has done so.

I probably wouldn't bother contacting the new employer.

TywysogesGymraeg Fri 21-Nov-14 10:58:36

I had it in my head that employers were not allowed to read any emails sent by employees, regardless of what T&Cs say.

Certainly when we dismissed somone for misconduct (marched out of building on the spot), it caused problems because we didn't know what customers he was discussing what with, so had to wait for people to contact us to find out why he hadn't been in touch, rather than proactively contact them IYSWIM.

HR wouldn't allow us to access his (work) email account. This was several years ago though, so law may have changed.

namelessposter Fri 21-Nov-14 10:59:49

the law is here. we fully comply with it.
www.findlaw.co.uk/law/employment/other_employment_law_topics/500160.html

Notbythehaironmychinnychinchin Fri 21-Nov-14 11:00:38

I wouldn't - it is the company's responsibility to verify references.

However, as it is a competitor locally I'd probably be thankful that they were maybe weakened by taking on a dodgy employee but also mindful of the fact that your paths will cross and there may be a natural opportunity for you to mention this - put simply I wouldn't go forcing the issue but if it crops up in nomrla discourse then I would probably mention it.

outofcontrol2014 Fri 21-Nov-14 11:00:38

Yes, she has possibly done something shady here, but is it really that bad? She wasn't a dreadful employee and didn't do anything horrendous while at your firm - so why would you wreck her chances at a new job over something so petty except in spite at the fact that she's now working for a similar firm? I would say that your motives for doing it are not good, OP.

CleanLinesSharpEdges Fri 21-Nov-14 11:00:56

She could have needed headed paper for any reason.

Really? Can you give us one? grin

outofcontrol2014 Fri 21-Nov-14 11:01:20

What I'm trying to say is: her entire livelihood may be at stake, and even though she's in the wrong - would you really want to be responsible for the consequences?

Vycount Fri 21-Nov-14 11:02:12

Any email sent from work is open to access by the employer. That's the legal position and has been for at least 12 years.
Op, what about speaking to ACAS?

CleanLinesSharpEdges Fri 21-Nov-14 11:02:19

Sorry, meant to add, YWBU to approach the new employer. It's up to them to confirm that references are genuine. Especially if they are provided without the new company having had any contact with the place the reference is coming from.

Johnogroats Fri 21-Nov-14 11:03:02

It is usual practice for employers to be able to read work emails for a good reason. We have a process in work (certain people have to approve access) and then emails can be accessed. Where someone has headed the email with PERSONAL, we don't read it, or if it is patently nothing to do with work.

Vycount Fri 21-Nov-14 11:05:55

I don't know why people are saying that Op should wish this employee well. They have lied to customers, who knows what else they've been up to? I'd be having a thorough investigation through emails as well.

Sprink Fri 21-Nov-14 11:06:06

Hmmm, I'm fairly certain that it's absolutely legal for companies to view all emails (and mobile records) that were made using company property.

I also believe it is the OP's business because it seems as though there might be a letter written in her name. Don't know what it would be called--forgery, fraud? Still, I wouldn't want it out there.

Contact the company to discuss.

NakedFamilyFightClub Fri 21-Nov-14 11:09:40

I second speaking to ACAS. I'd also consider changing your headed note paper ever so slightly so that if anything untoward happens in future regarding misuse of the notepaper, you can disclaim responsibility.

TywysogesGymraeg Fri 21-Nov-14 11:11:39

I stand corrected blush. and will now take more care over the personal emails I write from work

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