Following HR policy on not giving references?

More accurate to say that when it comes to dispute resolution, HR’s job is 100% to protect the company. But HR does a lot of stuff other than dispute resolution.

My wife’s last few companies have all had this policy and she followed it pretty closely. If there was a coworker she really wanted to help she might have given a “personal” reference which she somehow distinguished from a “professional” one.

But one thing that always pissed her off is if someone used her as a reference without giving her a heads up. IMHO, your former coworker made a big faux pas as well as a strategic mistake by using your boss as a reference without checking.

What’s so bad at your company that your colleague doesn’t want to come back there? Besides, their reference policy.

If you are thinking of hiring a new employee and you run into this policy of the previous employer only confirming the dates that they worked for that company, one thing we used to do was ask the question; “would they be eligible for rehire?”

If they are willing to answer yes, then the employee left on good terms, gave notice, etc. If they answer no, that usually is code for they fired his ass.

Is there any policy on a manager talking about someone ELSE who works there - in short, the reason why the person quit in the first place.

Granted this was over 20 years ago, but I worked at a pharmacy (a major chain that no longer exists, which will remain nameless) for less than 2 months, and the main reason was the other pharmacist. Among other things, he would make Public Aid patients wait an hour even if we weren’t busy, and other employees said they had seen him taking amoxicillin, etc. into the bathroom, where he likely spit in it or worse. (License revocation, anybody?) Anyway, he seemed impervious to disciplinary action, and two years later, when I got another job, the man who hired me just called to verify that I had worked there, and the store manager happened to pick up the phone and gave him an earful about the OTHER guy.

When I found myself considering suicide on the way to work, that’s when I knew I had to quit.

My response to such inquiries has always been “Wow! He’s out on parole already? That was fast considering … . How’s his back? I know that was always bothering him. Sorry, I can’t give you any information other than the dates he was employed here.”

We had a very strict policy, similar to many above. Not only could we not give any kind of reference, we couldn’t even give the how long they worked/leaving on good terms reference, people were sent to some sort of facility we paid for.

That said, I worked in a relatively small field. If I really trusted a friend who might be hiring someone I knew, I might give a reference. Or, there was the time a friend at another company called about a former employee, and before I could stop myself I burst out laughing. Then I told him I wasn’t allowed to give references, and we left it there.

Not always. My severance agreement had a clause that i couldn’t apply to work there again. This wasn’t unique to me, it was standard for the hundreds of people let go during that round of layoffs. Now, the 3rd party that handles those inquiries may have a response that takes it into account.

We were allowed to say whether the former employee was or was not eligible for rehire. That worked for those who were not eligible, but I would get calls from prospective employers wanting to know more about eligible employees. I’d give them the company line and then offer to provide my personal opinion - usually a positive and a negative. The kind of stuff I would have wanted in their position.

In academia, letters of reference are a Big Deal. Students need them to get into grad school, faculty need them to get jobs or be promoted, etc.

I ran into a few cases of people who were asked to give a letter, agreed, and then gave a bad recommendation. Um, what?

If you can’t give a good letter, demur. “It might be best to ask someone else.” or some such.

Note that this applies to the OP. The boss should have told the person not to give their name as a reference. What he/she did was jerk behavior.

I wonder if he actually gave the boss’s name as a reference, or if he just filled out the ‘supervisor’ block on a form and the new place decided to call the ‘supervisor’. An awful lot of people on this board who claim to do reference checks say that they think it’s foolish to only call people listed as references at a company. In smaller companies it seems a good way to annoy people, and in larger companies it seems pretty likely to get someone who can’t give much of a reference (I’ve had and seen a number of jobs where the ‘supervisor’ is just a technicality on an org chart and rarely the person).

This, by the way, is another couple of benefits of the ‘Only dates and job title’ policy. If someone is going off-script and get someone who doesn’t remember the guy very well (or worse has him confused with someone else), they won’t accidentally give an incorrect reference. And if other companies know that your police is ‘date and title’, they’re less likely to harass random people who haven’t agreed to be a reference about somebody.

To clarify, my colleague did list our boss as a reference, and did so without asking, which he acknowledges was a mistake. But my boss also confirmed to me that he was happy with my colleague’s performance, had nothing negative at all to say about him, remembers him perfectly well, and just decided not to give any information because that’s HR policy. Even though his boss has recently violated that policy to give a recommendation to another former employee (which admittedly my boss might not be aware of.) I do appreciate all the different perspectives, and hypotheticals with some different details make for an interesting thread, but this particular case is pretty straightforward.