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The University of Southampton
Human Resources

Employment References

This page provides information on:

Policy on providing employment references

If you’re asked to provide an employment reference for a current or former member of staff, you should forward the request to Human Resources ( ) to respond to. HR Transactions will provide the standard employment reference, which confirms factual information about an individual's employment.

If you choose to provide a reference you should follow the guidance on providing personal references below.

Information provided in the standard employment reference

The standard employment reference issued by HR provides the following information:

In the reference letter, we explain that it is the University's policy to respond to reference requests using this format that the recipient shouldn’t draw any negative inferences from the fact that the reference is limited in this way.

If the requester requires additional information, or for information to be in a specific format (e.g., for a visa application), please contact Ask HR for assistance.

What to do if you receive a request

If you receive a request to provide an employment reference from a third party for an existing or former employee, please forward this request to .

If you receive a request from the University for a former staff member, you can either forward this to Ask HR, or respond to the request.

If you choose to do the latter, please ensure the information you provide true, accurate, fair and not misleading. Be aware that the reference may be disclosed to the reference subject, if they request it.

When HR receives the request, a ticket will be raised in ServiceNow and the employment reference will be issued within five working days.

Providing a personal references / academic references

If you are asked to provide a reference for an existing or former staff member and you choose to provide a reference rather than forward to HR to issue the standard reference, please ensure:

Be aware that the reference may be shared with the reference subject.

If you are considering including information in the reference or expressing an opinion in the reference which could be construed negatively by the recipient please contact Ask HR for advice before proceeding.

Requesting references when recruiting

An important part of the University's recruitment process is to check that the information an individual has supplied as part of their job application is accurate and complete.  We do this by seeking references from previous employers.  Factual information about a job applicant's past experience and performance is usually a sound predictor of his or her future performance in a similar role

At the conditional offer stage, HR will contact the successful candidate’s referees to request an employment reference, these will then be made available to the hiring manager.

For academic posts, academic references may be requested from the applicant(s) after the shortlisting stage.  These are submitted to the interview panel before interview.

References for internal applicants

Employment references are not requested for existing staff who have applied for an internal opportunity.

However it is reasonable for the hiring manager to contact the existing line manager to get feedback on the employee's performance and conduct – this wouldn’t be provided in the form of a reference but the existing line manager still has a duty of care to ensure that any information discussed is accurate, fair and not misleading.

Requesting a reference for yourself

If you are an employee of the University and need an employment reference for yourself (e.g., for a mortgage, tenancy or visa application) you can request this by completing the employment reference request on the Service Portal . Please allow five working days for the reference letter to be issued.

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