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Can I see references?

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Will I be allowed to have a copy of or see references that people send out to employers? I was told that the only time I can see them is when I have been given the job.


Also if you put someone down for a reference is a 3rd party allowed to make a comment on it who hasn't been put down to make a reference?

Edited by finaldj

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Job references are not subject to Data Protection in the normal sense & as such you have no rights as a data subject (i.e. the right to see a copy)


Whether you could see them if you started work? Technically I suppose so because as an employee you have the right to see the file your employer holds on you & as such they would form part of the contents of that file.


As for the 3rd party issue; not really sure I understand this point. Every employer will have a normal practice for references that are sought - some centralise this function through HR; others will allow individual managers to write references. I suppose the issue revolves around who has the reference been sought from - the individual or the employer. If its the employer then technically a 3rd party could make the reference.

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I believe you can ask whoever gave the reference for a copy of it, and no, I don't think a 3rd party can make any comment.


I'll ask another Mod who is more knowledgeable than me on employment issues, to have a look.






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thank you both for your replies.


It seems I can ask for a copy of the reference's and if they refuse at least I can ask why they wont.


One thing I never thought of asking is that I can ask any potential employee for a brief summery of a reference without breaking any confidentiality even though I know who the senders are.


@ Evancosmo


What I was saying is that 2 persons were named as a referee and further to this they have usually asked for a copy of any sickness records e.g 12/18 months and this has to go through HR who have the records for this.


The person from HR who works in our department (school) who wasn't named as a referee decided to make her own comment as well (off her own back)


This small comment she made was a deciding factor between me and another person for a job and they told me because of the comment she made I didn't get the job.


So I was asking can someone make any comments e.g. 3rd party who are not mentioned as a referee?



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I was wondering.


Do you have a friend that owns a company?


Could you not ask them to write to your old employer for a refernce?


Depending on the content of any reference received, you may be in a position to take legal action.


I don't know how a court would view this as it does seem rather sneaky.

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