B3c: Policy on Providing References

ORMS occasionally receives requests to provide a reference, either from a prospective employer or from a current or former student.

A reference is usually requested to confirm the accuracy of statements made in application forms, and to seek opinions as to the candidate’s suitability for the job or course and their potential for the future. Those providing references must not confuse fact with opinion.

There is no legal obligation requiring ORMS to provide an employment reference. There is an implied requirement, based on a general duty of care, in providing references for students.

When writing a reference, ORMS has a duty of care to both the subject of the reference and the recipient of the reference. A reference must always be true, accurate and fair. It must not give a misleading overall impression and must not be unduly selective. If ORMS does not satisfy these requirements it might be possible for the subject of the reference to claim defamation, malicious falsehood or negligence. The recipient of the reference might claim fraudulent misstatement or negligent misstatement.

ORMS will only provide corporate references that discuss employees, ex-employees, students and former students and their engagement during their time at ORMS.

ORMS, and its staff, employees or sub-contractors will not provide corporate references written as a result of personal knowledge about the subject of the reference. A personal reference will not be written on ORMS headed paper nor be sent from an ORMS email address. Personal references will only be made between individuals acting on their own behalf and not as staff, employees or sub-contractors at ORMS.

GDPR limitations:

Providing a reference is likely to involve processing personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679 EU) (GDPR), which is in force from 25 May 2018. ORMS will ensure that it has a legal basis for processing data as set out in the GDPR. In relation to a reference, the most likely condition to apply is that the individual has consented to the data being processed.

Consent to provide:

In compliance with the Information Commissioner’s Data Protection Employment Practices Code this policy on giving references sets out the requirement that ORMS must be satisfied that the individual wishes the reference to be provided. Those approaching ORMS for a reference must provide a photocopy of the individual’s signed consent to its seeking the reference in the reference request. This will normally be sufficient for ORMS to process the personal data.

Remember that if you mislead or attempt to mislead ORMS into giving you personal information about an applicant you may be committing a criminal offence.

Should ORMS have any doubts about whether or not the individual has given consent, it will contact the individual to check that they wish the reference to be provided. ORMS will obtain the consent in writing from the individual using the most expedient method, probably email, which will be kept for no longer than six months.

We will not provide:

  • Telephone references
  • Unsolicited references
  • References where we have not been asked by the individual to provide a reference

What information ORMS will not provide:

ORMS will not provide the following information, classed as sensitive personal data:

  • racial or ethnic origin;
  • political opinions;
  • religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature;
  • trade union membership (within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992);
  • physical or mental health or condition, sickness records, or any information obtained through medical questionnaires, annual fitness for practise statements etc.;
  • sexual life;
  • commission or alleged commission of any offence, or proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings;
  • information about any criminal conviction obtained through safeguarding disclosures (e.g. CRB, ISA, DBS, Disclosure Scotland, AccessNI);
  • the financial standing of the student with ORMS;
  • the current address and/or date of birth of the individual.

What ORMS will provide:

References provided by ORMS will be reviewed and authorised by a Director before being sent out.  All references will be clearly marked as CONFIDENTIAL. The information will be verifiable from the individual’s personal file and only include the following:

  • How long ORMS has known the individual and in what capacity
  • The start date and end date (or predicted end date) of their course
  • Their mode of attendance as a student (full / part time)
  • If a student, whether or not they passed their modules of study
  • If a student, if they were registered with HCPC on completing their course of study

A copy of the reference will be placed on the individual’s file and retained for no longer than six months, or in accordance with B5a Data Retention Policy.

Supplying a copy of the reference to the individual

ORMS will supply a copy of a reference to the individual concerned on receipt of a subject access request. We may charge an administrative fee of £10 for this.