Citizens Advice Bureau Jersey

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References from an employer

Extent: Jersey
Updated 18 September 2019

Words you may need to know


Reference - a statement about somebody's character or qualifications, usually given to a potential employer

Terms of Employment - the conditions that an employer and employee agree upon for a job

Potential - possible or likely

Unfavourable - not good, disapproving

Data Protection legislation - your rights in law to ask to check information held about you

Slanderous - to make a false spoken statement about somebody

Libellous - a false published /written statement that damages somebody's reputation


Does an employee have a right to be given a reference?

You do not have a right to insist upon being given a reference by an employer. Your terms of employment may however say that a reference will be given and this then should happen. If it is a contractual term, the employer will be in breach of contract if they do not give one.

Does an employee have a right to see a reference?

There is no law in Jersey to cover the giving of employment references. However, under Data Protection legislation, the person who gets the reference (‘the receiver of the reference’) can be asked by a job applicant to see the reference. The job applicant would need to complete a  ‘subject access request.’

What can I do if a reference is unfavourable

You may be told that you will not be offered a job because of the contents of a reference from a previous employer. If you feel the reference may be unfair, or there is no reason for an unfavourable reference to have been given. You can ask the person who gave the reference (the Referee) for an explanation and ask for a better one.

If a reference is thought to be slanderous or libellous

If you feel the reference may be slanderous or libellous you may want to consider taking legal advice. However, you would need to get the details of what the reference says for further action to take place. It is unlikely that Legal Aid would be available.