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  1. #1
    Sparklecat's Avatar

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    Question Worried about employer potentially providing a bad reference

    Hello

    I left my zero hours contract role about 2 years ago due to unlawful deduction of wages (rolled up holiday pay). I took the employer to a tribunal and won back all that I was owed.

    The employer did not fully understand the case being brought (apparently) and instead of providing a defence of the unlawful deduction of wages, the employer made counter allegations of misconduct against me. These issues had never been raised during my actual employment and were all false. The tribunal judge set them aside as not relevant to the actual case.

    I am now job seeking and worried that the employer will repeat the false allegations to any potential new employer, as retaliation for winning the employment tribunal.

    I would be grateful for any advice to stop this happening rather than taking action after the event.

    Thanks, in anticipation.

  2. #2
    Ula's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worried about employer potentially providing a bad reference

    Firstly have you been employed in the intervening period, if so can you just use that employer for a reference and maybe a personal one if you are asked for a second referee?

    Secondly you could approach your old employer and ask them if they would be a referee and would they provide you with a satisfactory reference. They may not actually be willing to provide a reference after the outcome of the tribunal case and they are not obliged to unless there was a written agreement to do so or they’re in a regulated industry, like financial services.

    If they do give a reference it must be fair and accurate - and can include details about your performance and the reasons why the contract terminated and it can be brief - such as job title, salary and when the worker was employed.

    These are the only safeguards I can suggest for a proactive approach.

    If they did give an unfair or misleading reference, then the remedy is to claim damages in a court. They would have to be able to back up the reference, such as by supplying examples of warning letters. You would have to be able to show that any reference they gave was misleading or inaccurate and that you ‘suffered a loss’ - for example, a job offer was withdrawn.
    I do my best to provide good practical advice, however I do so without liability.
    If you have any doubts then do please seek professional legal advice.


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    You are braver than you believe, smarter than you think and stronger than you seem.

  3. #3
    Sparklecat's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worried about employer potentially providing a bad reference

    Hello Ulla
    Thank you for your reply. Firstly, I have not been employed in the intervening period (despite my best efforts). I suffered a period of depression following the tribunal (it was stressful) and other issues which I will not go into here.

    I am now preparing to apply to a post-grad' course. A condition of which is experience within my sector (healthcare) in order to demonstrate sufficient first hand knowledge of that sector. The UCAS application requires that I provide names of previous employers (I have a personal referee for my actual UCAS application, so no worries about that).

    When I left my job, it was following a period of management harassment following my written grievance about the wages. Since the issue also affected other employees, I was caught discussing it at work; the management did not like that and accused me of upsetting colleagues (which I was not, they all wished me well with my claim). One person had already left (months earlier) because of the wages issue and another was considering bringing the same claim that I did, but ultimately, I brought the claim alone.

    I don't want to approach the employer (who is known to be a liar). The employer refused to negotiate with ACAS by saying that internal procedures had not been exhausted even though I had a final written response. I do not trust the employer at all; I have good reason, which I will not go into here.

    I am horrified that this particular employer might be approached by the uni' to which I intend to apply. If I am offered a place on this very competitive course, then there is the risk the offer will be withdrawn if the employer is approached and repeats the lies that were included in the defence of the case. There is one disciplinary letter in which the employer raised false allegations about my conduct (after the grievance but prior to the tribunal). I responded to this letter by requesting 'further and better particulars'. None were ever forthcoming as the details in the letter were too ridiculous for the employer to even corroborate (I showed them to a CAB employment specialist who provided this opinion).

    I left the employment voluntarily; as it was a zero hours contract, I stopped attending. When I was asked if I intended to return, I replied that I would consider this depending upon availability. I was not asked again. I received my P45 6 months after I left (after the tribunal).

    The dilemma is that I desperately want to get a place on the course to which I will be applying. It is so competitive and people don't usually get 2nd chances, so I need to get this right first time.

  4. #4
    Ula's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worried about employer potentially providing a bad reference

    I do not know what type of questions UCAS ask on their reference request to be able to guide you as to whether it is purely a statement of dates you worked, what you did, why you left i.e. basic factual information or if they require some level of objective analysis of your work. The issue is that if your ex-employer does not give an accurate and fair reference you will not potentially be aware of it until after the event.

    My suggestions would be that in your application you detail the work that you have done for your ex-employer, thereby showing your sector experience, however at an appropriate part of the application state that unfortunately they cannot be approached for a reference as you took them to an employment tribunal for unlawful deduction of wages and won. Given those circumstances you do not feel they would provide an impartial reference.

    In the meantime have you considered temporary work in the health care sector via an agency- there are plenty around? If you are applying for a next year entry to the course then applications are between Oct and Jan I believe, so if you could get a few months temporary work then you can put the agency down as the referee thereby not needing to use your ex-employer.
    I do my best to provide good practical advice, however I do so without liability.
    If you have any doubts then do please seek professional legal advice.


    You can’t always stop the waves but you can learn to surf.

    You are braver than you believe, smarter than you think and stronger than you seem.

  5. #5
    Sparklecat's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worried about employer potentially providing a bad reference

    Thanks Ulla I thought about temporary work. There are plenty of agencies but not plenty of vacancies. I have a good overview of work in my sector, I have had long enough to research it so I know what opportunities there are. Agencies have the same choice of candidates and require the same references as other employers, btw.

    Thanks for for your help. Best wishes.

    - - - Updated - - -

    PS, I am a clinician and not a care worker. If the latter, I agree there are many vacancies.

  6. #6
    Spirit200's Avatar

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    Question Re: Worried about employer potentially providing a bad reference

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparklecat View Post
    Thanks Ulla I thought about temporary work. There are plenty of agencies but not plenty of vacancies. I have a good overview of work in my sector, I have had long enough to research it so I know what opportunities there are. Agencies have the same choice of candidates and require the same references as other employers, btw.

    Thanks for for your help. Best wishes.

    - - - Updated - - -

    PS, I am a clinician and not a care worker. If the latter, I agree there are many vacancies.
    A reference must be accurate but how do you deal with a negative attitude.? Very difficult. In fact almost impossible especially in a very competative enviroment.
    Last edited by Spirit200; 3rd September 2017 at 06:56:AM. Reason: Further consideration

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