I have an unpleasant history with my previous employer, especially with the HR which led them to not giving me any relieving letters but a letter of termination an year back. I have struggled to find an employment since then and have been unemployed for about a year now.

Recently, an opportunity knocked my door and they want to do a background check on me and require the reference of HR from last working org.

Okay, so I wrote an email to the HR in hope of having moved on for an acceptable reference check. Here is the reply I got back:

Dear [My Name],

If I get any background verification mail from the respective agency with regards to your employment details with [My Last Working Org. Name], we will revert them for the same.

Thanks & Regards,

[HR Name & Designation]

Now, what do I make of it? How likely is it that my unfortunate incident will be revealed when I request a reference from my former employer?


  • I don't know if its relevant but the country in question is India.
  • The company doing the background check(outsourced to it) is a well known MNC
  • 9
    In cases like this it almost always is better for them to hear about it from you rather than from a reference. In the USA at least, it's VERY uncommon for a prior employer to say anything other than "yes they worked here from x to y and had these general responsibilities". Anything else and they may open themselves up to lawsuits. Your country may be different. The advantage to you letting them know is that you've been up-front and honest and they are not taken by surprise and think that you've been lying to them.
    – jwh20
    Sep 6, 2021 at 16:27
  • 1
  • 12
    "we will revert them for the same." What does that even mean? Is this some sort of idiom of the Indian English dialect? It sounds like nonsense to me as an Australian English speaker.
    – nick012000
    Sep 7, 2021 at 4:51
  • 5
    @nick012000: "revert" is Indian English for "reply to" but I'm not Indian so it seems like a stilted brush off to me. "When the agency asks us, we'll reply about this to them (not to you, stop bothering us)" Sep 7, 2021 at 10:01
  • 1
    Also not sure about the specificities of the regulation in India, but in some countries (Germany is notorious for this), HRs have a very sneaky way of wording replies to background checks to indicate such incidents happened without violating any laws Sep 10, 2021 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


A background check by an employer in India usually entails verifying the data and references provided by you. They want to make sure you are being truthful about your past employer, designation and period of work. Some firms also request a "character certificate".

A "character certificate", from a private or government employer, is mainly meant to show that your discharge from an organisation was under normal circumstances. And that you didn't abandon the job without notice or were terminated because of any unethical and illegal action by you. A character certificate is only supposed to be a reference to your moral character. For example, it doesn't (and shouldn't) mention anything about your poor work performance or any disciplinary actions your faced in the organisation, if any.

Most companies issue this as a routine one liner in the termination letter or relieving letter - "[Your name] worked as [designation] from this [start date] to [end date] and his / her conduct and character was satisfactory / excellent / upstanding during his employment here."

So unless you got caught lying or cheating by your previous company in some form, and consequently lost your job, you don't really have to worry about anything.

As I mentioned, background checks are mostly verification. This is why most companies demand a termination letter / relieving letter or a salary slip of your previous employer from you before joining. It makes their job easier of verifying the data you submit. This is what is happening in your case too - your future employer is asking you to get a reference letter from your previous employer. (And that is why it is important to keep in mind to always ask for a relieving / terminating / reference letter from your employer when you leave them).

So ask your former employer for a hard copy of a terminating / relieving letter - tell them companies are asking you to submit it first as part of the process of the background check. And that you would be willing to come and collect it personally. They are legally obliged to give you this. (It is better to swallow your pride and go meet the concerned person in HR directly and request for the hard copy, and then send them an email reminding them of your meeting and request. At worst, if they are unprofessional, they may delay the process and make you come to the office a few times. Bear with it. Worst case resort, you can simply ask a lawyer to make the request for you, and the company will immediately comply).

Also note that many indian companies understand that minor misunderstandings - where smaller companies threaten to withhold termination letters - are quite common.

Tip: Note that a terminating / relieving letter only states the bare minimum facts of your employment and is issued by your employer. A reference letter from a former boss or client however may be more detailed and also help with future employment - always try to get a reference letter too from a senior colleague when you leave a job.

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