I have been contracting for several years and I have signed a new contract which started last week and should run for 2 months, possibly more if I am lucky.

The recruiter I am working with are asking for perfectly normal things (PI Insurance, Passport scan to prove my eligibility to work in the UK), in addition they say they require 5 years worth of references. As I have been contracting that would actually cover 5 different referees, which seems excessive to me.

I suppose if I had worked for the same company for 5 years then asking for a second referee prior to that seems fair.

They are also asking for a personal reference, which is absolutely no problem but makes the addition of 5 years worth of professional referees seem excessive.

My concern is that as they are a recruiter this is simply a way of bloating their database with people to contact without my permission, but kind of on the sly.

Does anyone have any evidence to support this?

closed as off-topic by Jim G., scaaahu, Chris E, JasonJ, DarkCygnus Jan 8 '18 at 17:48

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – scaaahu, Chris E, DarkCygnus
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    So you have already started your contract and the recruiter who placed you is asking for references now? Just say no, you've already signed the contract. They are very likely just fishing for more contacts like you said. – Richard Dalton Apr 6 '14 at 15:25
  • 2
    If your previous contracts were through an agency, simply supply the agency as a reference. – Dan Apr 6 '14 at 17:21
  • There's no rational explanation of why the recruiter would ask for that information after your contract started, other than them wanting to pad their contact database. The simplest explanation is usually correct. – aroth Apr 7 '14 at 2:26
  • @RichardDalton I took a phone interview on a Fri and was hired from the Tuesday after that, as contracting tends to work quite quickly and the client needed someone pretty straight away. I think the recruiter have an obligation to gather some information even retrospectively, because if I turned up at the client office and abused someone, or tried to embezzle money, the client would have an issue with the recruiter. So I think background checks are valid, although they shouldn't affect the fact that I have already started. – lharby Apr 7 '14 at 8:39
  • @TooTone I am a Front End Developer, working currently with an agency. – lharby Apr 7 '14 at 8:40

This could definitely be a fishing expedition. My rule for something like this would tend to be - if the agency seems to be reputable, I would ask them point blank if they're looking for leads, and if they say that's their intent I would throw them some bones - pretty much name two or three companies (if I've worked for that many) that are compatible with the kind of people they place. As far as the rest of them, I would frame a question like this: 'Are you sure you want the contact for the ant farm mail order house?' In other words, either too small or too far out of scope to make sense for what they do.

It's possible that the main reason they chose you over someone else is that your resume lists a lot of prior engagements, perhaps in particular with companies they want to do business with. In short, you are a walking Rolodex, and they want your contact names.

If that is true, the more you cooperate, the more they'll throw further contracting work your way. If that's what you want, meter it out slowly, that way they have to give you another engagement to get a few more names.


The recruiter has no need whatsoever to get references from you. Your employer has, but not your recruiter. The recruiter also had no need to check whether you are allowed to work in the country - again, that's the company's business, not the recruiter's. Now he's got a scan of your passport, which he shouldn't have. (The company has it, but they have to keep it safe. )

If they say the company asked for references, then tell them that you will provide references when the company asks you for them. Which could happen if someone hired you very quickly and is now catching up with the paperwork.

  • Actually in the UK recruitment agencies also have to verify the right to work I have had to take my birth certificate into agencies before now. – Neuromancer Jan 6 '18 at 18:14
  • @Neuromancer Does not seem to be what is stated in this article: www2.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2014/07/28/… Under: Q Do I need to check staff recruited via an employment agency? – Adam Smith Jan 6 '18 at 19:36
  • No recruiter has ever seen any evidence that I had the right to work in the UK. I have been asked whether I have the right to work - you wouldn't want to waste your time, but that's it. And your birth certificate? A birth certificate is no proof at all. I could have changed my nationality three times since I was born. And a birth certificate has no picture on it, so even if it proves that the owner of the birth certificate has the right to work, it doesn't prove that I have that right. – gnasher729 Jan 6 '18 at 21:01
  • A UK birth certificate is not evidence of nationality, right to work, or even identity of the bearer. But I have produced my passport for employers and agents as evidence of my right to work. – user16259 Jan 7 '18 at 20:57

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.