I am retired, and with all the recent layoffs, I’ve been asked by former colleagues if they can use me as a reference. While I was still working, we were told not to reply to any of these calls or e-mails, but to forward to human resources. Are there any guidelines that I should know before I reply?
When it comes to references, there is often a difference between what an employer says about a prior employee and what a former employee says. In most states, employers are protected from liability for relaying true information that is without malice to a former employee’s prospective employer. If an employer makes false statements or acts with reckless disregard, the employee may have a case. Many employers have policies that they only confirm the title and dates of employment. What happens in real life is that employers give off-the-record recommendations for good employees, and for less favorable employees, they only offer the dates of service and titles. There’s a wink and a nod, and everyone understands. As a former colleague, I don’t see any risk at all in giving a reference, particularly since you are free to pick and choose who you will provide references for (presumably those about whom you have positive things to say). And if someone you aren’t comfortable vouching for asks for a reference, you can politely say that you aren’t in a position to help.
My grandson just got a new job and gave his old company two weeks’ notice. They told him to go immediately, and didn’t pay him for those two weeks. Can a company do this?
While it is good form to give your employer notice, you don’t have to, and they don’t have to accept your leaving date, unless they have a policy stating otherwise. There are only a handful of situations I can think of where a company might want someone out that day and not honor the notice, most notably if the employee is leaving to go work for a competitor. Tell your grandson to continue doing the right thing and to not let this burn a bridge with his now-former employer. You never know who you might meet or work with in the future.
Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.