Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

15th February 2017

Are handwritten signatures required on references?

Do we have to have handwritten signatures on references? Will an electronic signature suffice?



Dear Kristy,


Thank you for your question which I am sure many people will have had concerns about these days when so much of our correspondence is done by email.


We asked our employment law advisers Napthens for their advice and this is what they said:


"There is nothing in the law which states that a written reference must be accompanied by a handwritten signature. In fact references can be given verbally, although this is not advisable as there can be disputes about what exactly has been said. Some companies do have Reference Policies which can confirm who has authority to give a reference, the format that the reference can be given in and to a certain extent what can be included in a reference e.g. if it is to be purely factual. It would be worthwhile checking whether the company has such a policy and whether it confirms how references are to be signed but, in the absence of this, there are no legal requirements to sign references by hand."


I hope this is helpful.


Best wishes.



*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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