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entitled to see references?

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by Ruthie66, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. I have done a search though topics and I think (if I've understood correctly) that while you are entitled to ask to see your references there is no obligation on either your employer or the place you are applying to to let you see them. Could somebody please confirm that this is the case or correct me if I am wrong.
    Thanks
     
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Not sure of <u>current </u>regulations, but I know in the past, if you did request to view them, they were then stamped, "Viewed by employee", thereby becaming useless as a reference!
    Hopefully, even though you didn't start Dear Theo,he might pick up and be able to advise you. Or someone with better current knowledge.
     
  3. I'm wondering what Theo will say about this, as I've always thought the situation is very confusing. Most people think you don't have a 'right' to see your reference, but I went for an interview last year where the headteacher was very happy to show me my reference when I asked, saying his local authority was operating this new policy. Different rules for different LEAs? How weird.
     
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    O.K
    Q1 Can you see the reference that your Head writes, i.e. can s/he show it to you?
    Yes, if s/he wants to. And in some local authorities, open references are common practice. In Scotland I believe that this is universally so (bit what I believe is not guaranteed truth ever!)
    However, your Head does NOT have to show it to you, as references written by an employer are specifically excluded from the Data Protection Act. Legally, therefore, the Head can refuse to show you, and in fact this may be to your advantage as some schools ask if you have seen it, and give greater weight to one that you haven't seen. If you have not set eyes on it, and it's got nothing negative at all, then clearly that is very reliable, they feel.
    So the DPA specifically names an employment reference as something that you do not have a right to request from the person who writes it. In view of that, lket's look at the next question:
    Q2 Can you get the person who receives the reference to show it to you?
    This is where the DPA has really got its knickers totally in a twist. They clearly didn't want people to see references, as they excluded them in one part of the Act. But - you have a right to make a DPA request to see a reference that is held by a potential employer!
    Don't get too excited, though. They can only show it to you if certain restrictions apply.
    These include:
    They believe that the person writing it didn't mind you seeing it. So if it says "Confidential" at the top . . .
    The person who wrote it cannot be identified by releasing the reference to you. So if it says "Mr Griff has been a teacher of mathematics in my school for 2 years", it gives you a pretty good idea who wrote it.
    It gives factual points, not opinions. "Mr Griff has been a teacher of mathematics in my school for 2 years" is a fact, that's OK. "I consider him to be the best teacher ever seen" is an opinion, as is "I think that he is pretty lousy in a classroom".
    The recipient has to weigh up the rights of the reference writer not to have his reference revealed, against the rights of the teacher to have fair treatment.
    It's all very complicated. But generally, you are likely either to get a refusal if you ask, or to get a summary/redacted version with identifying bits, and opinions, blanked out.
    It is all a big mess, people spend a lot of money on lawyers to tell them what they should do, so thank you to the Information Commisioner for that! You could try asking, the school anyway, you might get lucky, but do not believe those who assure you that you have an absolute right to see your reference.
    Then the LA has taken legal advice, and thus they state in the reference request to the Head that the reference may be shown to the candidate. So the Head may end with a little bit like: "If you have any further queries, do feel free to contact me", which may be a signal that he'll say something on the phone but not in writing . . .
    Best wishes
    __________________________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    www.tes.co.uk/careerseminars
     
  5. Thanks for all the replies, this is just what I wanted. It's actually for a colleague who was going to ask the head and wanted to know what was what.
     
  6. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    So my Agreed Reference is practically worthless? [​IMG] x
     
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    As long as it doesn't SAY agreed reference on it . . . which they usually don't . . . you'll be OK.
    Best wishes
    __________________________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    www.tes.co.uk/careerseminars
     
  8. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I saw this thread earlier and nearly replied, but then I thought 'Theo will be along later and will explain it all far better than I can'.
    And so he has.
     
  9. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    It does.
    Thanks Theo I'm now considering my next move re this, might do something I should have done when I left. The joys of hindsight [​IMG] x
     

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