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

Employment & Labour Law (3rd edition)

Argentina Small Flag Argentina


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.

Ecuador Small Flag Ecuador

The employer is obliged to provide free of charge to the worker, as many times as requested, written certificates related to his/her work. When the employment relationship is terminated by any circumstance, the employer shall be obliged to provide a written reference that certificates:

  • the time of service
  • services provided
  • remunerations received

France Small Flag France

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

Germany Small Flag Germany

Employees have a statutory right to be provided with a written benevolent reference 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.

Chile Small Flag Chile


Indonesia Small Flag Indonesia

No, this is not required under the Labour Law. However, please be advised that an employer should provide an employee with reference of employment if they request such reference. Generally, such reference would usually be used to cash-in social security payment from the Indonesian Social Security Agency for Manpower and Indonesia Social Security Agency for Health.

Italy Small Flag Italy

Under Italian law, there is no legal requirement for employers to provide references to new employers if requested to do so by affected employees.

Malaysia Small Flag Malaysia

Employers are not legally obliged to provide references to new employers. However, such references are typically provided upon request as a matter of goodwill to assist an employee’s future employment prospects.

Norway Small Flag Norway

If the employee leaves the employer following a lawful dismissal, the employee is entitled to a written reference from the employer. The reference shall as a minimum state the employee’s name and date of birth, the nature of the work and the duration of the employment.

Philippines Small Flag Philippines

Employers are not legally obliged to provide references to new employers even if requested.

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.

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

Mattos: No, unless required by the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

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.

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.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

Employers cannot communicate any information to third parties regarding the employee without being specifically requested to do so by the latter. Conversely, a request made by the employee to provide references serves as an authorisation given to the former employer to disclose work performance-related information to the new employer.

In this context, it is common practice for employees to request a work certificate at the end of the employment relationship, which their former employer is required by law to deliver (Article 330a CO). The work certificate must truthfully reflect the employee's performance but still depict them in a globally positive light. If the employee also requests that the former employer provide references, the employer can directly refer the potential new employer to the work certificate in order to avoid conflicting assessments or confirm the assessment contained in the work certificate.

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.

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.

Luxembourg Small Flag Luxembourg

There is no legal provision, according to which employers must provide references to new employers. Employers must, however:

  • refrain from issuing negative statements about their former employees and
  • provide their employees with an ‘employment certificate’ if they so wish. That employment certificate merely indicates the start date, end date and positions held in the company.

Romania Small Flag Romania

As part of their employee recruitment process and for checking the candidate's skills, future employers may ask for information from former employers, but only (a) in relation the activities performed by the candidate and the duration of his/her employment and (b) with the candidate's prior acknowledgment. Employers are not obliged to respond to such requests, however, it is fairly standard in practice to provide this basic information about former employees, when requested.

This type of request might become obsolete. This is in the context of a fairly new obligation for employers to provide (by default) to employees upon employment termination (1) a certificate expressly mentioning (a) the activity performed by the former employee, (b) the duration of his/her employment, (c) the salary, and (d) the seniority in work and specialty, together with (2) an excerpt from the general registry of employees regarding the former employee. If independent background checks are more valuable, employers still have the option of double-checking this information with former employers in line with the above any generally GDPR rules.

Peru Small Flag Peru

Although employers are not obliged to provide reference, it is a common practice within the Peruvian labour market.

Now, when finalizing the employment agreement, employers must deliver to the employee a work certificate, document in which the employer could include (it is not mandatory) a note about the worker’s performance during his or her time of services in the company.

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.

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. Before providing the references, the employer must verify if the employee is in fact applying for employment at the new employer in question.

Austria Small Flag Austria

If the employee is leaving on good terms and has had a good job performance, it is customary for the employer to provide a reference to potential future employers upon request. If so, former employers exchange information with potential future employers regularly over the phone.

Furthermore, the employer has to issue a written reference letter to the employee if requested by the employee. The employee can enforce his right to a reference letter in court.

When drafting reference letters employers must observe the following: On the one hand, all information contained in the letter must be complete and objectively correct. The employer is obliged to issue a truthful statement. On the other hand, the employer must not issue a disfavouring reference letter. It is prohibited by law to issue a reference letter that makes it more difficult for the employee to obtain a new post. The employer must accommodate both rules. A balance must be struck on a case-by-case basis.

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.

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, to take reasonable care to ensure that it is gives an accurate description and is not misleading. The employer owes a similar duty not to mislead the recipient of the reference.

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.

Armenia Small Flag Armenia

No they are not.

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).

Croatia Small Flag Croatia

Croatian labour law does not provide for the obligation of employers to provide references for workers to new employers if requested.

Ireland Small Flag Ireland

Although there is no legal obligation to provide a new employer with references, an employer has a duty of care to both its former employee and the prospective employer. Given the potential risks of causing damage by giving a misleading reference or damaging the reputation of the former employee, it has become common practice for employers to adopt a standard practice of only providing statements of employment. This would generally include no more than basic factual information, such as the date of commencement and termination of employment and the job title held by the employee.

Bolivia Small Flag Bolivia

Yes, whenever the employer is obliged to issue a work certificate to the worker at the conclusion of the work relationship

Monaco Small Flag Monaco

There is no such obligation in Monaco for the 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.

Updated: June 24, 2019