Legalities and Effectiveness of Reference Checking


Johann le Roux

 The section on the Right to Privacy in the Bill of Rights, has relevance to both employers and employment agencies, when it comes to reference checking.

Because of this section, employers and agents are advised to obtain written permission before taking a reference from a current or previous employer. Employers would be well advised to verify, before accepting a curriculum vitae, that the consultant has permission from the applicant, to release their confidential information to the client.

Can you be held liable?

Employers may refuse to give reference checks, provided they comply with Section 42 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.  This requires that employers issue a certificate of service, stating the name of the employer and employee, position held, dates of employment and salary earned, upon termination of the contract.  Should a previous employer refuse to give a reference he cannot be held legally responsible for any financial…

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