HR Best Practices
Human Resources, Talent Management

HR Best Practices for Employee Reference Checks

When receiving requests for employment references for a former employee, many employers ponder how much information to provide.  Employers are concerned that if they provide information about the former employee’s performance or personality that response could come back to haunt them.  Is it still a best practice to provide only name, title, and dates of employment in reference checks? Or can an employer provide additional information about performance or personality?

When considering what to say and what not to say when HR or a manager receives a reference check request about a former employee, it is best to stick to objective data and truthful information.  This practice reduces the risk of former employees claiming defamation due to a reference that contained negative feedback related to subjective information being provided.  It can also reduce the risk for employers being held liable for misrepresentation by providing what could later be claimed to be false or misleading positive responses.

Providing only the name, title, and dates of employment (never disclose medical records or other records that may violate an employee’s civil rights) is acceptable and may prevent potential claims that could incur costs, negative publicity, and frustration. Maintaining confidentiality with respect to all matters relating to the employment or termination of former employees is a good practice. If you disclose more information than name, title, and dates of employment be certain to disclose truthful and objective information.

Additionally, the practice should be carried out consistently.  For example, the practice of providing name, title and dates of employment for employee A that was terminated and then providing a glowing recommendation for employee B that voluntarily quit could be considered inconsistent and cause further review by the former employee.

This blog post provides general information regarding its subject and may not be construed as providing legal advice. This content provides practical information concerning the subject matter covered and is provided with the understanding that ADP is not rendering legal advice or other professional services.

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This article originally appeared on the ADP@Work Blog.

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