Response to reference request letter template

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Our Response to Reference Request Letter Template ensures prompt, accurate, and professional responses to reference requests, streamlining the process.

If you wish to respond to a reference request for an ex-employee from their new employer, issue this model template.

Why this letter is necessary

A response to a reference request letter is a formal document that provides truthful information about an ex-employee's work history, job responsibilities, and performance.

It helps the new employer make an informed hiring decision, and employers must ensure accuracy and adherence to a clear reference policy.

In the UK, you are not legally required to respond to a reference request from an ex-employee's new employer, unless there is a contractual obligation to do so. However, refusing to provide a reference could potentially result in a negative inference being drawn about the ex-employee, which could result in a claim for discrimination or breach of contract.

In addition, the ex-employee may have a right to access the reference under data protection laws, so you should ensure that any reference provided is accurate, truthful and not misleading. If you decide not to provide a reference, you should consider informing the ex-employee in writing, providing reasons for your decision.

If you respond to a reference request you must consider the following:

  • Duty of Care: You have a duty of care to provide a reference that is accurate, truthful and not misleading. You should ensure that the information provided in the reference is fair, factual and objective.

  • Data Protection: You are also required to comply with data protection laws when providing a reference. This means that you should obtain the consent of the ex-employee before providing any personal data to the new employer. You should also ensure that the reference does not include any sensitive personal data, such as medical information or details about their religion or ethnicity.

  • Discrimination: You must ensure that the reference does not contain any discriminatory language or information. This includes avoiding references to age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or any other protected characteristic.

  • Liability: You could be liable for any losses incurred by the new employer if you provide a reference that is inaccurate or misleading. This means that you should take care when providing a reference and ensure that the information is based on facts and not opinion.

  • Equality Act: The Equality Act 2010 prohibits victimisation of an employee who has made a complaint under the Act. This includes complaints of discrimination, harassment or victimisation on grounds of any of the nine protected characteristics. You should ensure that the reference does not contain anything that could be interpreted as victimisation.

Workflow sequence

Previous step
Reference request letter template

If you are recruiting a new employee and wish to request a reference from a previous employer, send this this model letter template to request confirmation of their employment.

This step
Response to reference request letter template
Next step
Acknowledgement of reference received letter template

This document is used where the Company wishes to acknowledge receipt of a reference given by another Company or individual, concerning a new joiner.

Implementation timeline

Step Description Responsibility Timing
1 Receive reference request from the new employer HR or Supervisor Upon receipt of request
2 Verify ex-employee's details and employment history HR 1-2 business days
3 Collect information on ex-employee's performance & responsibilities HR or Supervisor 3-5 business days
4 Draft the response to the reference request letter HR 1-2 business days
5 Review and approve the response before sending HR Manager or Supervisor 1-2 business days

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Practical example


ABC Limited, a UK-based company, receives a reference request for a former employee from another organisation. HR Manager Sarah is responsible for drafting a response to the reference request on behalf of the company.

Initial Response

Upon receiving the reference request, Sarah conducts several checks to ensure the legitimacy of the request and compliance with data protection regulations. She verifies the identity of the requesting organisation, ensuring it is a legitimate entity, and confirms that the former employee has consented to the release of their employment information. Sarah also reviews the company's internal policies and procedures regarding references to ensure compliance.

Drafting the Response

Sarah carefully considers the options for responding to the reference request based on ABC Limited's company policy. If the company policy allows for detailed references, Sarah drafts a comprehensive response that addresses the new employer's questions in full. This response includes factual information about the former employee's employment history, performance, responsibilities, achievements, and character assessment.

However, if ABC Limited's company policy restricts reference responses to simple confirmation of service dates and job title, Sarah drafts a more concise response that provides only the requested information. This response confirms the dates of employment and job title without providing any additional details about the employee's performance or character.

In either case, Sarah ensures that the response aligns with ABC Limited's company policy and legal obligations regarding references, maintaining consistency and compliance across all interactions with other organisations.

Sending the Response

Once the response is finalised, Sarah sends it to the requesting organisation via email or post, ensuring timely delivery. She includes any additional documentation or contact information as necessary and maintains a record of the response for documentation purposes.

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Reading time icon
Time to read / prep / use
5 mins
Document specs icon
Word count / length
210 words, 1 page A4
Date last reviewed icon
Date last reviewed
1 July 2024
response to reference request letter template

[Company name]

[Sender address]



[Recipient name]

[Recipient address]


Dear [Recipient first name],


Reference for [name][, [NI number (if known)]

Thank you for your recent request for a reference for [Name of the ex-employee]. I am happy to provide you with information regarding their employment with our company.

[Name of the ex-employee] worked for our company from [Start Date] to [End Date]. During their time with us, they held the position of [Job Title]


Their main responsibilities included [Brief Description of Job Responsibilities].

Throughout their employment, [Name of the ex-employee] was a dedicated and hardworking member of the team. They consistently met or exceeded performance targets, and demonstrated excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They also showed great attention to detail and an ability to work well under pressure.

I am confident that [Name of the ex-employee] would be an asset to any organisation they join and I am pleased to recommend them without hesitation.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.


This company has a policy of issuing brief, standardised reports in response to all employment reference requests. This report is used for all employees. The lack of any further information should not be interpreted as either a favourable or unfavourable reference.

[We would [not] re-employ [name].]

If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Yours [faithfully | sincerely],



[Sender name]

[Sender job title]

[Sender telephone]
[Sender email]


[For, and on behalf of [Company name] ]

Why choose our Response to reference request letter template?

Our content:

Is easy to edit and execute, with comprehensive implementation guidance.
Is designed by accredited, experienced HR practitioners.
Maintains your compliance with ACAS guidelines, legislation, and industry best practices.
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