I have recently been offered a job and I was asked to give a character reference and also a reference from my last employer. My character reference replied immediately but my former manager is taking his time (it's now 5 days since he said he would do it). I spoke to him last week and he said he would write the reference. Yesterday my new employer said he hadn't received the reference yet and asked me to check with my former manager. I asked my former manager if he received the email and he said he hadn't checked. I am afraid he is taking his time on purpose. Now my issue is that I will only get a new contract if I get that reference, what should I do? I don't want to sound desperate or chase anyone.
It's possible that your former manager is delaying on purpose - it's also possible that he's busy it's simply not something he's prioritizing. It's not ideal, but doing things for departing employees can be difficult to consider a priority versus any urgent work that's actually for the company and sometimes these things happen. To be honest though either way it doesn't make a huge difference to your problem or what you can do to resolve it.
First up I'd chase him - you can (and of course should) do this politely but there's no real harm in it. If they are deliberately dragging their feet then it probably won't fix that, but it's not about to make it any worse either. If on the other hand this is simply absent-mindedness then it might bump it up the queue a bit.
Secondly I think it would be a good idea to contact your new employer and lay out the fact that you've chased your former manager and hope it will be forthcoming from him but ask them if in the meantime there is an alternative they would accept that you can try and source (whether it's acceptable from a different prior employer, or from a colleague at your current one for example), this way you are showing your new employer that you are keen to resolve this and that the delay isn't originating with you.