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    Former MSE Debs
    Real-life MMD: Should I give former colleague an undeserved reference?
    • #1
    • 3rd Sep 12, 9:33 AM
    Real-life MMD: Should I give former colleague an undeserved reference? 3rd Sep 12 at 9:33 AM
    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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    Last edited by Former MSE Debs; 04-09-2012 at 6:17 PM.
Page 1
    • richard-iow
    • By richard-iow 4th Sep 12, 9:20 PM
    • 34 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    • #2
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:20 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:20 PM
    "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
    • By lauh88 4th Sep 12, 9:41 PM
    • 118 Posts
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    • #3
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:41 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:41 PM
    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
    • By Owain Moneysaver 4th Sep 12, 9:49 PM
    • 8,811 Posts
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    Owain Moneysaver
    • #4
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:49 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:49 PM

    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
    • By Mattjimf 4th Sep 12, 9:54 PM
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    • #5
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:54 PM
    • #5
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:54 PM
    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
    • By Torry Quine 4th Sep 12, 9:55 PM
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    Torry Quine
    • #6
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:55 PM
    • #6
    • 4th Sep 12, 9:55 PM
    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.

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    • Dan Thunder
    • By Dan Thunder 4th Sep 12, 10:24 PM
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    Dan Thunder
    • #7
    • 4th Sep 12, 10:24 PM
    • #7
    • 4th Sep 12, 10:24 PM
    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$£&*(£$&*(!
    • By 4$£&*(£$&*(! 4th Sep 12, 10:31 PM
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    • #8
    • 4th Sep 12, 10:31 PM
    • #8
    • 4th Sep 12, 10:31 PM
    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
    • By Jo09 5th Sep 12, 12:01 AM
    • 12 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    • #9
    • 5th Sep 12, 12:01 AM
    • #9
    • 5th Sep 12, 12:01 AM
    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
    • By Middlestitch 5th Sep 12, 12:52 AM
    • 1,320 Posts
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    Her problem, not yours. Don't do it.
  • LOUY
    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
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    • ronangel
    • By ronangel 5th Sep 12, 4:09 AM
    • 124 Posts
    • 141 Thanks
    This reminds me, many years ago (70’s) I was asked to give a reference to a government department for somebody ( a foreign gentleman) I saw every day but although honest a bit “dodgy”. I cant remember exactly what I wrote but I think one line was “This man has never been convicted of any criminal offence” or words to that effect which was perfectly true!
    He seemed happy so the outcome was ok….. Probably works high up in the government now which could explain a lot of things!
    The richard montgomery matter

  • mr-tom
    If you lie in order to assist her getting work that she seems unsuitable for, you are basically stealing from her new employer.

    If you want to do something for her, address the reasons for her previous failure with her. It'll be a far more valuable gift in the long run if it works out, but it won't be comfortable.
    • VfM4meplse
    • By VfM4meplse 5th Sep 12, 6:33 AM
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    I don't see any dilemma here! The answer should be no.

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

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    • missrlr
    • By missrlr 5th Sep 12, 6:58 AM
    • 2,189 Posts
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    Factually accurate confirmation of dates and responsibilities stating this is policy. Don't risk your professional reputation
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    • Ebenezer_Screwj
    • By Ebenezer_Screwj 5th Sep 12, 7:22 AM
    • 420 Posts
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    This woman is obviously not good employment material and she has put you in a difficult position. I would tell her that in view of your association you are unwilling to give her a reference based on the truth nor will you give her a false reference.
    • bouncydog1
    • By bouncydog1 5th Sep 12, 7:40 AM
    • 2,603 Posts
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    As already mentioned, any new employer is entitled to rely on a reference provided which is why many firms will now only provide basic references to avoid any chances of future litigation.

    Say sorry - no.
    • jockosjungle
    • By jockosjungle 5th Sep 12, 8:12 AM
    • 751 Posts
    • 3,464 Thanks
    I'd suggest the odds of the company actually asking you for a reference are about 1 in 50. My mate was a personal reference for me for about 4 years and every job I have ever had. I think ASDA were the only ones who ever asked.

    Most companies give a very factual reference, just dates usually and others don't give one out at all. So their use is pretty limited.

    Anyway I imagine you would be a personal reference, they shouldn't be asking about work related stuff.
    • ValleysGirl
    • By ValleysGirl 5th Sep 12, 8:23 AM
    • 11 Posts
    • 15 Thanks
    I agree with the others that you shouldn't give an inaccurate reference, but aren't there other issues to deal with here as well? I assume that when you first suggested to your boss that this former colleague could do some part-time work, you'd had no problem with her work in the past. If that's the case, was there some other underlying reason for her then not delivering 'as expected'? Perhaps this needs to be addressed first - by the sound of it, she's no longer working with you, so you don't really know whether or not she'd be able to 'deliver' this time (and you could use this as a reason for not giving a reference).
    • brewerdave
    • By brewerdave 5th Sep 12, 9:03 AM
    • 5,176 Posts
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    More than 15 years ago, when I was a fairly senior manager in a large UK plc, we were instructed NOT to give personal references any more - all references were provided by the HR department along the lines previously suggested in post #7. No comments were allowed on actual performance in the post or attendance issues in case of legal proceedings being brought by an unsuccessful job applicant!
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