Are employers obliged to provide references to new employers if these are requested?

Employment & Labour Law (2nd Edition)

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

No, unless required by the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

South Korea Small Flag South Korea

Yes, whenever an employer is requested by an “eligible” former employee to issue a certificate of employment, specifying the term of employment, kind of work performed, positions taken, wages received, and other necessary information, the employer shall immediately prepare and deliver such certificate based on facts, even after the retirement of the employee. The certificate shall contain nothing other than what has been requested by the employee.

A former employee is eligible if the employee had worked for thirty (30) days or longer and within three (3) years of retirement/separation from the employer. Failure to provide the certificate may result in an administrative fine not exceeding KRW 5 million (approx. USD 5,000).

Turkey Small Flag Turkey

Although it is a common practice in Turkey, there is no statutory obligation for the employers to provide references to new employers. In case of providing references, the compliance with data protection legislation should be concerned, by considering the particularities of the specific cases for which reference is provided.

The Netherlands Small Flag The Netherlands

Employers are not obliged by law to provide references to new employers. Employers are however obliged to issue a certificate when the employment is terminated.

If an employer gives references he must provide this truthfully to avoid being liable to the new employer.

Thailand Small Flag Thailand

There is no specific rule regarding employer reference. However, according to section 585 of Thai Civil and Commercial Code, when an employment comes to an end, the employee is entitled to a certificate as to the length and nature of his employment.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

Generally, employers are not obliged to seek references or to provide references when requested to do so by former workers or prospective employers. If a reference is requested the employer must comply with its duty towards the individual who is the subject of the reference, which is to take reasonable care to ensure that it gives an accurate description and is not misleading.

Separate obligations apply in the financial services sector. Certain regulated employers are required to give a reference for individuals in regulated roles when requested to do so by a prospective employer. Depending on the type of employer, it may be necessary to give this information in a prescribed format. The employer has a continuing obligation to update such a reference in certain circumstances, with any new information that becomes available.

Certain regulated employers are also required to seek references for employees in regulated roles.

Canada Small Flag Canada

Employers are not obliged to provide references to new employers. However, a reference should be provided except where cause is being alleged or where the employer cannot in good conscience provide a reference since it is to the employer’s advantage for the former employee to find a job as soon as possible.

Philippines Small Flag Philippines

There is no legal obligation to provide references to new employers.

Israel Small Flag Israel

There is no statutory legal requirement in this regard.

Sweden Small Flag Sweden

The employer is obligated to provide the employee with references in connection with the expiry of the employment. This obligation is considered to be a general principle and thus not set out in Swedish legislation. The obligation may also follow from a collective bargaining agreement. The employee can demand that the reference shall include information regarding length of service and the work tasks conducted by the employee. Further, the employee may require that the reference include a verdict regarding the employee’s performance and the reason for the termination of the employment.

Ireland Small Flag Ireland

Employers are not generally obliged to provide a reference but if a custom and practice exists in the employer organisation whereby employees are provided with references as standard, it may be difficult for an employer to refuse to provide a reference. Where an employer decides to provide a reference, the employer arguably owes a duty of care to ensure that reasonable care is taken in relation to its drafting and in all cases it must ensure that the contents are fair, true and accurate. Employers should remain vigilant that under data protection legislation employees may have a right to obtain copies of any reference created.

Germany Small Flag Germany

Employees have a statutory right to be provided with a written report by their former employer. The report must include the length of service and a description of the employee’s job and can include an assessment of the employee’s performance. A framework has been developed by employers and courts which provides standard rating clauses for certain aspects of the employee’s performance from “very good” to “poor”. The employee can sue if the employer fails to provide a report or if the employee has the impression that he was assessed inaccurately. Usually a new employer will not contact a former employer and ask for references.

France Small Flag France

No. Yet settlement agreements often stipulate non-disparagement obligations, or even a commitment to provide positive references.

Finland Small Flag Finland

No, there is no legal obligation an employer to provide such references. However, upon termination of an employment relationship, an employee is upon request entitled to receive a written certificate of the duration of the employment and the nature of the work duties. Further, at the request of the employee, the certificate shall also include the reason for the termination and an assessment of the employee's working skills and behavior.

China Small Flag China

Employers are not obliged to provide references of an outgoing employee to the new employer. However, the employer is obliged to issue a certificate of termination of employment to the employee at the time of termination, bearing the terms of the employment contract, the date when it is terminated, the position of the employee and the working time of the employee with this employer. Additionally, the former employer shall write the reason for dismissal impartially upon the request of the employee.

Belgium Small Flag Belgium

The social documents to be given at the end of the employment contract are determined by law. It concerns (i) the work certificate mentioning the beginning and the end of the contract, and the nature of work done, (ii) the payslips and tax form, (iv) the certificate for unemployment benefits and (v) the vacation attest. There is no obligation to provide other documents.

Austria Small Flag Austria

If the employee is leaving on good terms and has had a good job performance, it is a good practice for the employer to provide a reference to future potential employers upon request. However; under Austrian law they are not legally obliged to do so.

United States Small Flag United States

An employer has no legal obligation to provide references to new employers. Moreover, it is common for an employer to adopt a company policy refusing to provide any references, or providing limited information only such as names, dates, and salary. Company policies which limit or refuse to provide references have arisen largely out of a desire to avoid defamation or other claims arising out of negative references.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

According to the prevailing doctrine, every provision of references requires the employee’s consent. If the employee does consent, he/she is principally entitled to the provision of references by the former employer.

Singapore Small Flag Singapore

It is not a legal requirement that employers provide references to new employers if requested. However, it is customary to do so and courts have recognised that where employers prepare such references, they should do so in a fair and accurate manner.

New Zealand Small Flag New Zealand

There is no legal requirement to provide an employee a written work reference unless it is provided for in the employee’s employment agreement.

Under the Privacy Act 1993 an employer can only release personal information about an employee, including a work reference, to a third party if authorised by the employee to do so.

The courts have held that an employer must provide a record of the types of work carried out by an employee, if required.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

No, there is no obligation to provide references to subsequent employers, even if requested by the potential new employers. However, in terms of the FLL, an employee is entitled to obtain from his/her employer a statement of work, showing the date of hire, position, most recent salary earned and last day of employment. It is becoming a common practice in Mexico not to give references to new employers and keep any information strictly to the terms of employment that remain in effect with the former employee.

Italy Small Flag Italy

No, there is not any obligation for the employer to provide references to a former employee.

Luxembourg Small Flag Luxembourg

There is no obligation for the employer to provide references to new employers.

Spain Small Flag Spain

No, they are not obliged to do it.

Japan Small Flag Japan

No. It should be noted that information relating to a former employee constitutes personal information under the Act on the Protection of Personal Information, and should not in principle be provided to a third party without the former employee’s consent.

India Small Flag India

There is no legal obligation for an employer to provide a reference under existing legislations.

Updated: June 29, 2018