If I request a reference after leaving a company, but during the time I left I obtained a criminal conviction that they were aware of and changed my name by deed poll, can they refuse to write me one?

So the timeline goes like this

  1. Started at Company X
  2. Left Company X
  3. Obtained Criminal Record
  4. Company X found out
  5. Changed Name
  6. Applying for New Job at Y (that does not ask for background check)

Is there some legal stuff I need to be aware of?

My POV here is that they hired me to work and when I worked there I was a stand-up employee who did their job really well and when I handed in my notice I gave longer notice than my contract stipulated.

  • 1
    Is your conviction spent?
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 17:23
  • 1
    "Is there some legal stuff I need to be aware of?" - What does your lawyer say about this?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 17:26
  • 1
    hi and welcome. At Workplace@SE we want real non-hypothetical questions. Is there a real-world problem you are trying to solve? also, in general, when "legal stuff" is involved you should consult a lawyer Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


can they refuse to write me one?

Yes, references are done out of goodwill, not something mandatory. You can easily prove that it's you by showing the deed pool proving the change of name.

This gets a bit tricky if you do not want to disclose a criminal conviction. If it's not spent, you will generally have to disclose it anyway, change of name doesn't fix it, and if it's spent, you generally won't need to disclose it (source: https://www.nacro.org.uk/resettlement-advice-service/support-for-individuals/disclosing-criminal-records/disclosing-criminal-records-employers/).

  • I see. If I were to provide proof of change of name and a reference was submitted then the content of the reference is purely on my conduct during the time I worked there? Or can they say "Yes great employee, but after he left this is what he did"?
    – user114832
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 11:56
  • 1
    They won't care, unless they know what you did after and it's outrageous enough that they want to withdraw the reference.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 12:07

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