Employers who are considering making an offer of employment may request information from previous employers to help determine an individual’s suitability for employment. Employers are not legally obliged to provide a reference for a former employee, but if provided should be factually correct as the information contained within a reference is covered by the Data Protection Act. An employee who feels that a former employer has provided an inaccurate and unfair reference may, using the Grievance Procedure, raise a complaint in writing with their employer. The Employment Practices Code published by the Information Commissioner provides guidance for employers on references.
Information Commissioner’s Office: Data Protection Good Practice Note - Subject access and employment references