HR tip: References for redundant employees

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Question:"We give all redundant employees a good reference in order to help them get alternative employment. Is this safe?"

HR Tip:
No, this is dangerous. You must not mislead the reader of a reference either by what you include or what you miss out. If you omit to mention that, for example, the ex-employee was a poor performer, the next employer might sue you for damages. Far better all round is for you to promise to give a reference on request from a potential employer and then comment honestly.

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By davidch
19th Nov 2007 10:22

A muddled balance of compassion, commercial awareness and integrity often tempts HR Officers to favour unmerited (if well-intentioned) support over professional advice. We see this confusion when they:

- "gently" dismiss irrecoverably poor performers using redundancy instead of performance management,

- allow dishonest employees to resign instead of completing disciplinary investigations, and

- mislead future employers about former employees' performance.

HRD & Payroll Solutions' tip wisely advises referees to comment honestly. Using reputable transition or outplacement services will help redundant employees more than insincere recommendations. And employers who know that the most reliable indicator of an employee's future behaviour is their most recent conduct will already be using dependable selection processes in conjunction with proper reference, ID and probity checks.

David Chernick
Reed Screening

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