(Closed) HR Bees – calling a previous employer!

posted 4 years ago in Career
Post # 2
7410 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

This really all depends on where the previous and perspective employer are located. There are a lot of laws and regulations around what you can and can’t say when doing (or giving) a reference check. My experience has been that many HR departments will only confirm that an employee did in fact work for them and whether or not they are eligible for re-hire, and say nothing more. 

If you include the city and state where you are working, you may get some more targeted feedback.

Post # 4
349 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2015 - country club in Michigan

I’m a manager, and the training my employer gave me was I can answer any question honestly, using ONLY facts (no opinions). So if I were asked “why did XX leave” I would respond “XX told me they were leaving because of….”. I could not say  “I feel like XY left because of…” (that would be an opinion). Or “Do you think XX was a good employee” I would respond “No, because XX did not complete work assignments by their due dates and was not punctual to meetings”. I could not say “XX was a jerk and I think he was lying about being sick alot because he took sick leave every week” (being a jerk and thinking they were abusing sick leave are opinions)

Post # 6
719 posts
Busy bee

I think there’s a difference between calling a reference, who can say anything they want and calling an HR department to verify basic facts about employment.  Honestly, I don’t think you need to be so scared of the HR department going on and on about a previous employee’s performance.  The HR department has nothing to gain by sharing this information and HR usually tries to keep such information private to minimize their liability. 

Post # 7
194 posts
Blushing bee

I work in an HR department and do employment verifications. Mostly for bank loans, not for perspective employers. I only give out title, salary, and dates of employment. The agency I work for is large and the HR staff does not know every individual so I wouldn’t be able to give a recommendation for most employees. Generally speaking, we have a policy of not disclosing if a person was frequently visiting our office for disiplinary reasons, even if they were terminated due to it. There a few cases where the person was an exceptionally bad employee and I am to direct any requests for references to the head of our department so that he can handle it personally.  

Post # 8
270 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

ShabbyChicBee:  Most companies now will not put themselves in the position of even possibly being at risk for being sued for defamation.  For this reason, many employers will only provide the bare essentials: Title, dates of employment, and salary.  

While an employer (in U.S., anyway) can certainly speak about performance – negative or positive – they would be foolish to say anything unprofessional or anything that was not well-documented – and again, due to litigation risks, many employers choose not to give any additional info at all. 

Post # 9
14494 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

If you would like to know what a previous employer might say, you can use a reference checking company. There are steps that you can take to fix bad references from malicious old employers. It’s better to find out before you’re looking for a job, than get turned down for a position that you need or want and wonder why. 


Post # 10
826 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: Local Resort

ShabbyChicBee:  It is illegal to say anything about a current or previous employee other than confirming their tenure, position responsibilities and salary and never without your permission are they even allowed to contact a present employer.  That would make them liable for slander.  It happens, but its rarely discussed.  This is the case in IL and MI as far as I know.

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  ChicagoSLK.
Post # 11
176 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: dont know

If a company calls your old workplace they cannot say anything bad about you, its against the law. they can only say you worked there and how long.  It might be different if you use them as a reference instead of just previous employer though.

Post # 12
2137 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

One of my good friends works in HR and according to what she told me they are only allowed to give out pure facts without any implications. For example ”Sue handed in her notice” or ”Sue was terminated by us”, or ”Sue worked here for 4 years as a Sales Manager”. 

If you use someone as a reference you would usually select someone who you like and who you trust will say nice things about you. Even if you selected someone who you didn’t get on with hugely well, they wouldn’t be allowed to say anything negative that was ”just an opinion”.. so ie they wouldn’t be allowed to say ”Sue was always off sick, and I think she was abusing our sick-leave policy because Janey said she saw her out shopping that day…” ..but they would be able to say ”Sue took sick-leave 8 times last year” if asked. 

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