Employment references provide important information to school leaders, assisting them in determining whether a job applicant is suitable.
Given the ongoing recruitment and retention challenges across the education sector, getting to grips with employment references and your responsibilities could not be more important.
Schools are not legally obliged to provide a reference to existing or former employees, as this only applies to industries regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
Nonetheless, it is custom and practice in education to provide references for employees, and refusal to give a reference could inaccurately suggest that an employee is unsuitable and give rise to several issues, including:
References should be accurate, fair, and avoid making subject comments that are not supported by facts; they should not be misleading or contain inaccurate information.
Despite this, references might show that a job applicant is not suitable for the role they are applying for. If this is the case, you are entitled to challenge claims made by the applicant.
For example, you might question:
In accordance with the Data Protection Bill 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), it is best practice to have consent from a data subject before providing a reference about them.
You can do this through exit interviews, application forms, or by contacting the employee directly.
Applicants need to be made aware of their right to withdraw consent and should be offered easy ways to do so at any time.
As an EPM customer, we will proactively provide you with advice on legislative changes through our email advice notes, so you can be sure that you are on top of all your legal obligations.
Your named HR Adviser can also answer any questions that you might have in relation to the above that are specific to your school, academy or trust. We will also provide you with a range of model reference forms, invites and offer letters, including: