How To: Handle Employee References

Posted in : How To... with Dr. Gerry McMahon on 20 September 2021
Dr. Gerry McMahon
Productive Personnel Ltd
Issues covered: References; Data protection; recruitment; policies and procedures


A reference that gives a glowing account of an incompetent employee - perhaps to speed them on their way as far as possible from the employer - can return to haunt that employer. The ‘boomerang reference’ will hit hard when it returns, for if the chef can’t cook, the software programmer is incompetent or the technician proves incapable, then the new employer, that relied on the good reference can - and may well - sue.

Allied to the fact that references are a poor predictor of performance – with their hidden agendas and sub-texts – together with the employee’s right of access to what has been written about them - all makes for tricky territory when it comes to writing

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This article is correct at 20/09/2021

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Dr. Gerry McMahon
Productive Personnel Ltd

The main content of this article was provided by Dr. Gerry McMahon. Contact telephone number is +353 1 490 7490 or email

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