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GDPR and references - bad ones

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by cillia, Apr 11, 2019.

  1. cillia

    cillia New commenter

    I am working for a academy - During my past teaching history there was a place that let me go for apparently breaching their online guidelines as I posted something silly online and a colleague coincidentally found it. So... a new company I work for has pushed me to state all the companies I worked for over X years and is seeking references from the above. They stated they needed 3 - 5 in total refs to be satisfied but are asking for more. The above organisation has notified that due to GDPR they require a former employee's permission to give references. So I re-directed the reference takers elsewhere to other workplaces of reasonable record. But this company won't let go. Now this company have said they need my consent and I'm not giving it, they want it! I am concerned that if a school have your consent they have carte blanche to give you a bad reference (whatever else they may have) and state reasons for dismissal. can I just refuse and ask them to use others?
  2. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    Standard referencing in school is your current/ last employment as first referee, depending if already left. The second referee is usually the preferred other one.

    If there are queries, potential employers might ask others in the list of employers but this would be referenced on the application form in my experience- we reserve the right to/ we may seek. I would say it would only occur if something triggered a query in terms of safer recruitment, for example needing stronger reference, a referee left post, an employment gap or similar. I would advise the candidate this is what I was doing and explain why.

    Some application forms ask for more than the two referees from the start. I usually provide my two and state that I can also offer others, citing their name and title.

    Can you have a discussion with company as to what their query is? It might be standard practice. Or they might be looking to clarify something. You could clarify this openly with them. You then own the information they receive.
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I wonder if you can give your consent for them to confirm your dates of employment and that there were no safeguarding issues (but not anything else). It may be that that's all the new company are asking for, and it's the main concern.
    starlightexpress likes this.
  4. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    You say that you work for them, are you under contract?

    If so why are they after references? I have to be honest I would be tempted to tell them to swivel, I presume that you have given a reference and that this has been accepted.

    NEED 3-5 references, what sort of people are they after? I am 55 and have not worked for 5 companies, no idea what you are supposed to do if you are in your 20's.
    agathamorse and FrankWolley like this.
  5. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

  6. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    I have to be honest and say I'm totally confused by the OP. You've started somewhere new (presume they checked at least 2 references before appointing?) and now they want 3-5 references, why was this not on application form? You may have dodgy reference from previous school when you broke online guidelines...have you deliberately avoided naming them for references? Never heard of GDPR linked to references, but hey ho. They want references, all you can do is provide them and see where it goes.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    IanG and Flanks like this.
  8. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    If you were dismissed from a post for breach of contract or safeguarding violations, a school doesn't have carte blanche to give you a bad reference, they have a legal right to give an accurate one to a future employer. Which includes stating you were dismissed and why.
    cillia, IanG, Flanks and 1 other person like this.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    In short, you can refuse to give permission for them to approach a previous employer for a reference. But if you do they can withdraw the offer (if it is still 'subject to references' - I'm also unclear exactly where things are in relation to the new job).

    If a candidate refuses to allow a previous employer to be approached for a reference, or seeks to restrict what can be asked, no-one should be surprised if the prospective new employer draws a negative conclusion and withdraws the job offer. The prospective employer, understandably, will assume you have something to hide.
    celago22, Piranha, IanG and 2 others like this.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Good luck.
    Pomza, IanG and Flanks like this.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Pomza, IanG and Flanks like this.
  12. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    Have you and others been given a new job description also ?
  13. cillia

    cillia New commenter

  14. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

  15. cillia

    cillia New commenter

    The place wanted an immediate starter so they have started me. They have i believe 2 refs and want more. They are seeking refs from one of the job roles stated in my employment list. My worry is that although they state GDPR permission required they can they be absolved from any negative (bad reference) given. SO, I just pointed them at other refs but they keep on about this one. Maybe my reluctance made them suspicious i don't know.
    Some employers ask all kinds of questions i.e. reason for leaving - no of sick days taken etc etc
    I have been advised I can request from the former employer all the information they hold on me. Not sure if this would help.
  16. cillia

    cillia New commenter

  17. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

  18. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    Providing a reference is likely to involve processing personal data under GDPR. Therefore, the employer must ensure that it has a legal basis for processing data. In relation to a reference, the most likely condition to apply is that the individual has consented to the data being processed.

    Do you expect a negative reference? Are you even sure they are willing to give reference, given they are under no obligation to do so? Have you spoken to them? A reference should express the referee's honest, balanced view of your professional capabilities. It should detail both your strengths and any perceived areas for improvement. Could they not simply provide a short, factual reference that merely confirms your post and length of service.

    You can request the information, but I can't see it helping in this situation.
    annascience2012 likes this.
  19. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yes your new employer needs your permission to approach your previous employer for a reference. This has always been the case, but what GDPR has done is tighten up the 'rules' on getting your consent. Now it must be explicitly given, in writing.

    Not sure what you mean by "they can they be absolved from any negative (bad reference) given". Who is "they"? The previous employer? Previous employers must give references that are accurate and fair and must not include misleading or inaccurate information. If the reference breaches this the employer could be liable to you for any losses you suffer. They cannot 'absolve' themselves from their liability to you.
  20. lavender_hill

    lavender_hill New commenter

    Oh without a doubt, yes. From a Safer Recruitment perspective you are ticking quite a few boxes that will be sounding warning bells.

    Your best bet is to be 100% open and transparent and give them the access they want without delaying or obstructing.
    agathamorse likes this.

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