Is A Residential Care Home Obliged To Provide A Reference For An Ex-Employee? | QCS

Good afternoon I am struggling to get a reference from an ex-employer as I have a new job in a hospital. They just keep telling me they are too busy. I left on good terms. Is there anything that I can say to them to get this reference as I am on the understanding that because the care industry (residential care home) is regulated they are obliged to provide a reference? If they don’t I could lose the job offer.

Many thanks

Sheila Scott
Answered by Sheila Scott


Dear E,


Thank you for your question. I have received several questions along the same lines about the difficulty of obtaining references from some former employers.


I asked Chris King an Employment Law Specialist from the Employment Team based at Napthens’ East Lancashire office and this is what he said:


“Generally speaking there is no obligation on an employer to provide a reference for a former member of staff. There is a requirement for references in the Financial Services sector but I’m not aware of a similar obligation for health/care providers. I would suggest the only thing that this individual is able to do would be to continue to chase the reference, perhaps explain the difficulties they have with their new role or even draft a suggested reference to make it as easy as possible for the former employer to provide this. It is also important that the new employer understands the difficulties that the individual is having in getting this reference. If the individual is able to obtain in writing a confirmation that the former employer is too busy to provide a reference then this would help the new employer in their understanding of the difficulties the individual is having.”


Regulation 18 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 requires that a provider should employ:

  1. Sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced persons must be deployed in order to meet the requirements of this Part.


This is what the relevant KLOE says:


Suitable staff and staff cover:


S3. How does the service make sure that there are sufficient numbers of suitable staff to support people to stay safe and meet their needs?


S3.1 What arrangements are there, including within the rotas, for making sure that staff have the right mix of skills, competencies, qualifications, experience and knowledge, to meet people’s individual needs?


S3.2 How is safety promoted in recruitment practices, arrangements to support staff, training arrangements, disciplinary procedures, and ongoing checks?


S3.3 Do staff receive effective training in safety systems, processes and practices?


There are a number of ways of getting the relevant information about an employment history for instance:


  • The DBS check
  • More than one reference and that can include a character reference
  • If a reference cannot be obtained then relevant evidence could be provided by a training certificate or other similar information.


The employer must be in a position that they have taken steps to obtain the appropriate reference but a character reference confirming where you have worked would undoubtedly help to confirm your previous experience. The employer will then need to demonstrate how they have come to the decision to employ and keep that information on the person’s employment file.


I hope this is helpful.


Best wishes,





About Sheila Scott

Sheila Scott OBE from 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. 3. Read more

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