Real-life MMD: Should I give former colleague an undeserved reference?

Former_MSE_Debs Posts: 890 Forumite
edited 4 September 2012 at 6:17PM in MoneySaving polls
Money Moral Dilemma: Should I give former colleague an undeserved reference?

A few years ago, I arranged with my boss to get an old colleague some part-time work. But she messed it up, and didn't deliver as expected. Now she's applied for a new job and asked me if I'll be a referee. Her husband has disabilities and she's been struggling to get work. But if I told the truth, it wouldn't exactly be a glowing report.

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  • richard-iow
    "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!" This person has already let you down once, do you really think it is worth risking your professional reputation a second time for somebody that isn't even a friend? In my opinion her personal circumstances should be irrelevant.
  • lauh88
    lauh88 Posts: 121 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    I would advise saying sorry but you don't think you can give a reference. Your boss won't be impressed with you if you give her a good reference and she turns out to be rubbish again.
  • Owain_Moneysaver

    In fact, you owe a duty of care to the prospective employer. If you give a positive reference which they rely on, and subsequently find is false, then they could claim against you (or your boss).

    Are you allowed to give references for other former employees? I would just tell this old colleague that all references have to be given by your boss, and you can't put your own job at risk by disobeying his instructions.

    And supposing you subsequently apply for a job with the same employer? They'll already have you down as 'the person who gives references for unreliable people and whose judgement can't be trusted'.
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
  • Mattjimf
    Mattjimf Posts: 556 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    If it's a work reference and not a personal reference, just do a basic HR reference, stating the dates she worked at the company and what her duties were. If it's going to be a phone reference just keep the answers short, don't lie, but don't expand on anything.
    Sometimes i surprise myself by being right.
  • Torry_Quine
    Torry_Quine Posts: 18,840 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Bake Off Boss!
    Any reference given should be accurate in all cases and as you had problems with this colleague it could be a 'bad' reference. I think that you either tell her you can no longer give a reference or that it will be a true reflection of when you worked together.
    Lost my soulmate so life is empty.

    I can bear pain myself, he said softly, but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have -
    Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
  • Dan_Thunder
    As Mattjimf says, just give a basic reference. They generally say something along the lines of "I can confirm that X worked for us during the period of X to X. The duties of the role were X, Y, Z."
  • 4$£&*(£$&*(!
    Friends are friends, and business is business. You don't have any duty to support the woman or her family, and she hasn't delivered. I think you have to detach yourself emotionally, she is asking you for a business related service so forget how you feel, is it sound business sense giving her a reference?

    To put it in another context, a friend recently had a request from a family member asking if they would be a referee for an item on credit. It then transpired my friend would be one of only four referees, and I was already aware of some debt problems with the person in question (so a bad credit risk already in other words). My friend was teetering on the brink of saying yes to giving a reference until I pointed out the hassle he would get and even potentially to be sued for making a false representation. The tough decision was made and the request was knocked back - even though it was family, it was still the right decision.
  • Jo09
    Jo09 Posts: 12 Forumite
    Some references won't allow just the basic HR type reference, theyll ask specific questions which will need to be answered. Why not suggest that someone else may be able to provide a more glowing reference than the honest one you can provide? If they insist / beg you've already warned them you'll be truthful.
  • Middlestitch
    Her problem, not yours. Don't do it.
  • LOUY_2
    LOUY_2 Posts: 57 Forumite
    No !!!
    A reference from you is also a reference of you. If you give an inaccurate reference or false information - it will reflect badly on you too.

    If she messes up, it will make you look bad, and your judgement would be questionable too
    Mortgage when started (Dec 2005): £120,000
    Current mortgage (March 2011): £98,563
    Update (Jan 2014): £89,639
    Mortgage free day: Jan 2034
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