So a bit of history first. I have worked for a large company in the UK as a software engineer for the best part of 5 years now. This is my first job out of graduating university, the first two years were part of a graduate program where I was employed by the company at the same time as studying for my masters degree at the end of which I applied and was successful in being hired into my current position. The last 3 years have all been in the same team, all of my yearly appraisals have been good and there have never been any complaints against my work.
Fast forward to earlier this week and I was taken by surprise when I was asked out of the blue to see my Boss's Boss. I was told that due to some pretty extreme budget constraints that they were reducing the number of 'junior' engineer roles based on job title and given that I was the only one with that particular title in the team that my role was to be eliminated. I was given the rest of the day off to weigh up what this would mean to me and to start looking at other options for employment, but due to my history of good performance I was encouraged to try and find another position within the same company.
Given the situation I would potentially like to find another job outside the company to give myself a wider range of experiences (though I am not entirely ruling out applying for positions within the company). My problem lies in that when I read through the redundancy and termination of employment policy that I was provided with it was made very clear that the only reference that the company would be willing to provide to an external company is my Start date with the company and end date (if I have already left the company). When I revealed this to a couple of trusted colleagues they said it was very strange to have that sort of policy and it could look bad on me if a potential employer wants a reference from my current employer but they will only provide start and end dates as it may appear that my redundancy was actually me being fired.
So my question really is this, is it usual for a company to only provide start and end dates as a reference regardless of the reason for an employee leaving, and will this have a negative impact on my attempts at getting employment away from the my current company?