Settlement agreements and references

We are often asked about Settlement agreements and references.

Employers are not usually under any legal obligation to provide a former employee with a reference, though thet must provide one if there was a written agreement to do so.

If an employer does agree to provide a reference then the employer must be satisfied that the reference is true, accurate and fair. If an employer provides a reference that is untrue or inaccurate then they can be sued for ‘negligent misstatement’, so it is important that they do not leave themselves open to a legal action of that kind.

You may be able to challenge a reference which you believe is unfair or misleading. 

Most settlement agreements will address the issue of a reference.

You may have already worked out the wording of an agreed reference with your employer, in which case that wording can be included in the settlement agreement. The employer must then provide that reference to any future employer.

If the wording of the reference has not already been drafted and agreed then we will be happy to raise this issue with your employer and act on your behalf in agreeing a reference that can be included in the settlement agreement.

Many employers have a policy of only providing a short, basic reference. This would generally be limited to confirming the dates that you worked for them and your job title. Within the negotiations that accompany a settlement agreement employers can be asked to provide a more detailed reference.

Employees often feel that a basic reference suggests that their performance was substandard, but because so may employers now only give basic references it will not look unusual.

If you have been offered a settlement agreement and have any questions about settlement agreements and references then our solicitors are here to help. Most employers will make a contribution to the legal costs of taking legal advice on a settlement agreement, and where that contribution is a reasonable one we will limit our fees to the amount being offered; which means that it will not cost you anything.

To discuss settlement agreements and references please call our free legal helpline or send an email to us at [email protected]