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

Employment & Labour Law

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.

Ireland Small Flag Ireland

Generally speaking, employers are not legally obliged to provide a reference but where a custom and practice exists in an organisation whereby employees are provided with references, it may be difficult for an employer to refuse to provide a reference. Where an employer decides to provide a reference, the employer will owe a duty of care to ensure that reasonable care is taken in relation to same and that its contents are fair, true and accurate. Data protection legislation considerations may also be relevant as employees may have a right to obtain copies of any reference created.

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.

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 declining to provide any references, or limiting references to information such as names, dates, positions held 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.

Spain Small Flag Spain

No, they are not obliged to do it.

Turkey Small Flag Turkey

The Labour Law does not prescribe any obligation to provide references to new employers.

Colombia Small Flag Colombia

Employers are not obliged to provide references of ex-employees to new employers. The employers are only obliged to issue a labor certificate (whenever the employees request it or at the termination of the employment agreement) including information about time of services, the type of services rendered by the employee and the salary.

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 a provision of references by the former employer, however.

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.

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.

India Small Flag India

The labour legislations in India do not prescribe any obligation to provide reference to a new employer. It is at the discretion of the employer.

Uruguay Small Flag Uruguay

Former employers are not obliged to provide references to new employers. In case they decide to provide it, the references should be fair and accurate; some employers may only give a factual reference stating dates of employment, job title and salary.

UAE Small Flag UAE

An employer is not obliged to provide a reference to new employers. However, if requested by the employee at the end of his employment, the employer must provide the employee with an end of service certificate. Such certificate should state the beginning and end dates of the employment, the total duration, the type of work undertaken and the last salary paid to the employee (plus details of any other allowances).

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.

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.

South Korea Small Flag South Korea


France Small Flag France

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

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.

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.

Belgium Small Flag Belgium

There is no such statutory obligation. Upon termination of employment, for whatever reason, the employer is obliged to deliver to the worker a certificate which mentions (i) the start and end date of employment and (ii) the nature of the work performed (only).

Luxembourg Small Flag Luxembourg

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

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.

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.

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.

Updated: June 12, 2017