I have asked a previous employer to write a reference for me. They have come back to me asking that they be paid for it, stating that it is:


I find this highly unusual and completely inappropriate.

Is this normal, or even accepted, behavior?

Some additional details:

  • Education sector

  • Asia

  • Boss, individually demanding reimbursement, certainly no paper trail

  • What do you mean by "employer" here..your boss (individually) or the organization? Jan 25, 2021 at 13:33
  • Please add an indication of your location and industry; this sort of thing can vary immensely. Jan 25, 2021 at 13:34
  • Please add a location tag. Your answer will range from "they are legally required to do it for free" over "they should really do it for free it's professional courtesy" to "damn right they want money for it". And if you don't add a location tag, you will never know which of them applies to you.
    – nvoigt
    Jan 25, 2021 at 13:35
  • 1
    Also, please make it clear whether the boss wants to be paid a) personally under the table, b) personally with an invoice, c) as part of their job and you will get the invoice from the company d) has some kind of official table (i.e. any reference is amount X handling fee and Y postage as per the official company table for correspondence)
    – nvoigt
    Jan 25, 2021 at 13:37
  • 1
    @SouravGhosh Where in the world would such a practice be acceptable? Where would "damn right they want money for it" actually apply?
    – teego1967
    Jan 25, 2021 at 14:26

1 Answer 1



Under no circumstances, references / recommendations should be paid (for). Above everything, it's unethical (if not illegal), as when payment is involved, things are sure to be biased.

Find someone else, who will be ready to pen down a couple of good lines for you, because you did something good actually, not because you are ready to pay.

P.S.- The fact that there's no paper trail for the demanded transaction, this is definitely not invoiceable, making the intention far form fair.

  • 1
    While I'm fully with you that it would be completely unethical - if the former employer would keep insisting and that reference is of uttermost importance - why not grease that engine with a bit of oil - obviously depending on the quality of the recommendation and the amount of oil needed..
    – iLuvLogix
    Jan 25, 2021 at 14:00
  • 2
    @iLuvLogix maybe, but then, in case this guy has done the same with others, and for some reason this is exposed, based on the size of the industry, it can have a negative effect that OP actually had a reference / recommendation from that guy. I'd leave that guy out of my resume / reference list if I were OP. Jan 25, 2021 at 14:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .