As an employer, does your company provide references to your former employees?
If you answered, ‘yes’, do you simply provide the dates, job position and confirmation that Joe Blow worked for you? Or do you actively participate in a reference check, taking the time to divulge what Joe Blow’s strengths were and how often he called in sick?
Providing the bare minimum does no one any favours, regardless of whether Joe Blow was a good employee or was one of the worst you’ve experienced. Employees who know that they will receive the same reference however they perform, may not try quite as hard to impress, you, the employer.
Anything that an employer can do to assist a terminated employee in securing alternate employment will be to their advantage. They might find work more quickly, which could reduce a severance obligation and/or will present well to other employees who are always looking to see how terminated employees are treated.
Additionally, employers in Canada can be open and honest about their feelings towards employees in a job reference, as long as they are stated in good faith — based on that employer’s honest belief — and not stated negligently. That is because there is a legal “qualified privilege” in reference checks against defamation.
So, next time you’re asked to be a reference for someone, take the time to honestly and openly answer the relevant questions, knowing you are protected, and that word of your participation in reference checks will get back to your current employees.