Employ­ment law myth No. 1: It’s ille­gal to give a bad reference”

Many peo­ple believe that giv­ing a bad” ref­er­ence is some­how against the law.

In fact, there is no gen­er­al oblig­a­tion at law to give an employ­ee (or for­mer employ­ee) any sort of ref­er­ence – good or bad. 

Where the law might inter­vene (for exam­ple in an action in defama­tion) would pos­si­bly be if an employ­er pro­vid­ed a delib­er­ate­ly dis­hon­est or mis­lead­ing ref­er­ence which caused some harm to the employee.

To avoid such poten­tial pit­falls many employ­ers adopt the posi­tion of just pro­vid­ing a state­ment of ser­vice con­firm­ing an employ­ee’s length of ser­vice and posi­tion, but not com­ment­ing further. 

For any advice on rights and oblig­a­tions con­cern­ing ref­er­ences please con­tact: sro@​swaab.​com.​au or rbo@​swaab.​com.​au

Read myth no. 2, You need to give some­one three warn­ings before you can dis­miss them” here.