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Obtaining Copies Of 'confidential' Job References

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Once again I find myself canvassing the varied (and often vastly more knowledgeable than me!) opinions of other HPC'ers. This time a little bit more 'selfishly' and nowt to do with economics or houses, etc........

IF someone having applied for a job at an establishment subsequently requests from that establishment, to see a copy of the confidential reference that would have been supplied as part of the job application process - are they entitled to see it/obtian a copy? Is there any law supporting this? Data Protection Act?

Will it make any difference if the requester actually works at said establishment or was not succesful in their job application at the time?

or, is it merely a matter of whether it is pat of the various HR policies at that establishment to subsequently release copies of references on request?


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My hunch is that you can request to see it, hence why companies such as the one I work for give very dull references which state not much more than confirming you worked at said place between certain dates.

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Under the data protection act you can request all information they hold about you, and they can charge up to £10. If you were offered the job in writing subject to references, and then were later declined the position it is obvious that they received a reference. You can then request to see all information.

The problem with most companies is they will just claim the only info they hold about you is your CV or some such. If I did it to my company they should give me all information, including my Salary and PAYE contributions going back 6 years, but they will cop out and just say they don't hold any info.

It's a bit like those Freedom of Information requests to government departments, if it's difficult or proves they're in the wrong somehow they will find some way to get out of it, or make it so difficult for you, you'll end up giving up.

Edit to add:

As I read a lot about motoring legislation, a number of times people are find for being on their mobile while driving, however they can prove they are not by getting details from their phone company. But most won't give you that information until you get a court order, but under the DPA you should be able to pay £10 to get all calls data they hold - but most won't.

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Isn't it illegal for companies to give bad references? They have to either give a basic factual one, a good one, or none at all.

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Don't think it is illegal but could lead to trouble as you may need to prove the 'bad' part .. liable etc so easier and safer to state ... employed between X and Y dates ...

And the sneaky but provable things like

number of occasions late for work

number of sick days

which you might not mention if you were a writing a "good" reference - especially if you can insert also the average figure for that class of employee to the detriment of the applicant.

Or you can go for the double entendre ambiguity like the superb quote

"It will be a very lucky company that gets this man to work for them"

or the killer

" mr X performed all his duties in strict compliance with his job description" (= awkward squad barrack-room lawyer jobsworth who never worked a second after 5.30)

In education, where references were normally given up front , the reverse applied - people the HoD wanted to get rid of got references which would make Aristotle blush with modesty. Unfortunately they usually gave themselves away at interview....

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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