I just realized my employee agreement (which I signed several years ago) has a clause that prohibits me from being a referee for another employee at the firm. The clause does not distinguish between personal references and work-related ones. The effect of the clause is such, that it does not allow people in supervisory or team-leader roles to act as referees for their subordinates; it doesn't say if current employees can be references for former employees.

The employer recently reminded another employee (not me) that it was their policy that only they are not allowed to act as referees or issue written references for former employees. This seems utterly unreasonable to me, and I was tempted to bring up how unreasonable I thought it was. However, I'm baffled as to why any employer would want to stipulate this in an employee agreement.

Is there a perspective to this I'm missing? What is the motivation for it?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., Michael Grubey, ChrisF, gnat, Rory Alsop Nov 30 '18 at 15:25

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    In an old company of mine all referrals had to go through HR. Maybe your place has a similar policy – rath Nov 23 '18 at 10:46
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    "What is the motivation for it?" Making it harder to leave. – pmf Nov 23 '18 at 12:20
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    Which country is this? – Jim G. Nov 23 '18 at 12:40
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    Country is Australia. – mamift Nov 24 '18 at 4:56

They likely have a neutral referral policy and do not want employees to give referrals acting on behalf of the company.

It would be very difficult for the clause to hold for personal referrals, if they are not phrased as a referral from the company and it is highly unlikely they would pursue personal referrals.


It's a risk reduction exercise for the company. They do not want their employees giving inappropriate references - ones that may be factually incorrect, libelous or whatever.

If a former employee is asked for a reference, and they give the name of a current employee as the person to contact, then it will look to the new employer that they are receiving a reference from the old employer.

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