The purpose of obtaining references is quite simply, to put an added safeguard in to the recruitment and selection process so that additional information is available which may affect the decision to employ. Questions relating to health, disability or absence record should not be asked on a reference if it is being sent out before the applicant has been offered the job. In every case, however, the employer will want an honest answer to the question “Are there, to your knowledge, any circumstances which would deter you from re-employing him/her, or would make it undesirable for us to engage him/her?”

If the employer is satisfied with the references gained, the replies should be placed in the employee file, marking the application form as appropriate. If the employer is dissatisfied, the information should be discussed with the employee concerned and his/her immediate supervisor. If the employer is still dissatisfied and believes that the new employee is unable to match the selection criteria adequately, the employee should be dismissed with the required period of notice.