Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder jc78 Novitiate

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    Default Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    Hi,
    I have a question pertaining to background or reference checks. I had an incident at my current employer. I had used an USB device to connect to my work laptop to the internet at home. My intention was to perform some work from home. Internet connection is necessary to connect to my work network. However, the USB device was a counterfeit device, it didnít work and instead every time I tried to use it, it ran sum inappropriate programmes and files. I had no idea of this till HR told me that they found some inappropriate activity on my work laptop. My employer tracks all activities on work laptop. In light of this finding my employer took disciplinary action and after a disciplinary committee meeting, they gave me a final stage 3 written warning.

    Now I am considering resigning from my job moving to a different company. I have an offer. But I am worried about the background check that the new employer will conduct. My entire career and academic history is spotless and excellent. I will also get strong reference from all my previous employers and educational institutions. But I am not sure how the reference from my current employer will appear.

    Does anyone know if my current employer will reveal this disciplinary warning to my future employers during background/reference checks? Any thoughts in how to approach this situation is much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jason


  2. #2
    Basic Account Holder RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD's Avatar

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    Hard to say, as different employers have different policies when it comes to references.
    The trend is towards giving an entirely factual reference, that merely states job title and period of service, but you can't rely on them not divulging your disciplinary record.
    What size is your employer? The larger the organisation, the more likely it's just factual.

    What's important is to be entirely truthful with a prospective employer. If you do well at interview, and explain the circumstance that led to the Disc., then they're more likely to value your honesty and won't then have any nasty surprises when they pursue a reference.


  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder andypoth Novitiate

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    I don't work in HR but have managed several businesses where I was involved in recruiting staff for my unit, so have seen several references for prospective employers. I've also written a few as well. Most employers will not give a good or bad reference; all that the reference will say is something along the lines of:

    "I can confirm that John Smith worked for ABC Ltd. His employment started on 1st January 2010. He is currently engaged as a sales assistant"

    , particularly if it's a large organisation, because there have apparently been cases in the past where former employers have been successfully sued by their ex-employees for giving a bad reference so they won't give any opinion any more. If you also consider that it would apparently be in your employer's interests for you to leave (as you're a "bad apple") then they also won't give a bad reference either to make it easier for you to leave - though I don't know how much this goes on anymore!

    It's also worth looking at the disciplinary policy because most warnings will expire after a pre-determined period (so long as you behave yourself in the meantime!) - it's usually something like three months for a verbal warning, six months for first written warning and a year for final warning. So while it's unlikely that they would disclose the warning in a reference anyway, if you keep your nose clean and wait for the warning to expire it then couldn't be disclosed anyway.

    Worst case, the employer might refuse to provide a reference and then you may have to explain why to the prospective employer. Again, check the disciplinary policy; you should have a right to appeal the decision, and should always do this; even it isn't overturned you can prove that you challenged it and your grounds for doing so.


  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder jc78 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    Thank all for the responses. My current employer is indeed a multi-national organization with 50k+ employees. I was told that my written warning will stay in my personal file for 12 months. I was also verbally told that this incident will not have an impact on my career progression in the company. I am considering leaving as I cannot really trust if this is truly the case.

    A factual reference would work in my favour, but I had heard that some organization reveal additional details, such as Disciplinary Action Taken - Yes/No, Will you rehire this employee etc.


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD's Avatar

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    Bear in mind that sometimes it's the prospective ER who dictates the format of the reference by sending a questionnaire to the former ER- as you said 'Would you re-hire', etc.

    I wouldn't become too preoccupied by this.


  6. #6
    Basic Account Holder andypoth Novitiate

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    I agree with Rachel, don't worry too much about it, as it's unlikely to be a problem. To reassure yourself, try looking for an HR policy on references (there's bound to be one) - you can always say you've been asked to be a referee for someone else - and see what it says.

    It should be fairly obvious if your current employer gives you a bad reference - I never say that my current employer can be contacted before interview, so if you were to be interviewed, offered the post subject to references and then have the offer rescinded it would look likely this was something to do with references! And you do have the right (under the Data Protection Act) to request a copy of the reference from either your current, past, or prospective employer, by making a Subject access requesticon.


  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD Informative RachelMD's Avatar

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    Quote Originally Posted by andypoth View Post
    I agree with Rachel, don't worry too much about it, as it's unlikely to be a problem. To reassure yourself, try looking for an HR policy on references (there's bound to be one) - you can always say you've been asked to be a referee for someone else - and see what it says.

    It should be fairly obvious if your current employer gives you a bad reference - I never say that my current employer can be contacted before interview, so if you were to be interviewed, offered the post subject to references and then have the offer rescinded it would look likely this was something to do with references! And you do have the right (under the Data Protection Act) to request a copy of the reference from either your current, past, or prospective employer, by making a Subject access requesticon.
    Only from your prospective employer, as I understand it Andy. There's an exemption for former/present employers.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    Quote Originally Posted by RachelMD View Post
    Only from your prospective employer, as I understand it Andy. There's an exemption for former/present employers.
    Correctamundo! The DPA exempts the employer providing the reference from disclosure, but the receiving employer must provide a copy (subject to certain conditions) in response to a Subject Request.

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    FWIW - in the reference requests which I receive, there is almost always a section which asks whether I would re-employ the applicant and whether the applicant was the subject of any disciplinary action in the previous 12 months (or sometimes longer). It would have to have been a major issue for me to disclose something which might affect somebody's chance of getting a job - I would overlook certain timekeeping issues for example but would be duty bound to say that I wouldn't re-employ somebody dismissedicon for theft. It is a balance between honesty and judgement.

    In terms of your 'offence' this sounds more an innocent oversight rather than a deliberate act, but as most contracts include clauses about installing unapproved devices or software on company property, they were probably justified in giving a warning. Equally however, this could be explained as a genuine misunderstanding and a prospective employer should treat it as such.

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  10. #10
    Basic Account Holder jc78 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    Thanks for all the responses. This has been very helpful and immense moral support. The dilemma that I am facing is this – Should I accept the offer from prospective employer or not. If I do resign from my job, accept the offer, and after conducting the reference check the prospective employer chooses to retract the offer then I would essentially be unemployed. My other option is to stay put with my current employer for a period and hope this washes out. But what is the guarantee that in 8 months or a year, I would not be in the same situation, i.e. a negative reference about disciplinary action could be given in future too.

    So I am trying to weigh the risk of resigning to move on. Would this led to being jobless from current and prospective employers. Could I take legal action against my current employer, if they were to give negative reference and damage my reputation?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Background Check impact - disciplinary action

    I understand your dilemma and I suppose it is a case of how much you want to move and how attractive any prospective job vacancy is.

    If a warning is to be expunged after a period of time then it should not be held against you after that time, but on the other hand I certainly wouldn't class this misdemeanour as making you unemployable given the circumstances that you have explained. If an offer were to materialise, what is stopping you in explaining that you were the subject of a warning for an honest mistake and asking whether that would disqualify you from the job?

    You could only consider legal action in a reference was factually incorrect or malicious in it's nature.

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