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Employment Reference Check Policy

  • Related Documents: Employment Reference Check Procedure
  • Owner:  Human Resources
  • Approver:  Vice-President, Administration and Operations
  • Approval Dates:  February 2004, August 2007


Toronto Metropolitan University (the "University") is committed to recruiting the best qualified persons who can effectively contribute to the University's goals and objectives.  The University believes that employment reference checks are an important tool and key element in the recruitment and selection process.


The University will exercise its right to verify and validate information given during the recruitment process in order to ascertain suitability for employment.  This will be done through reference checks with individuals from the candidate‚Äôs previous employment, as authorized by the applicant with respect to external applicants, and with the immediate and previous supervisor(s) of internal applicants.

The University will attempt, whenever possible, to release honest and pertinent reference information on former employees, or current employees with permission, without malice, and in confidence to potential employers, subject to verification. 

As of March 1, 1995 all agencies funded or licensed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), which provide direct service to children, including child care, or vulnerable adults, are required to have developed and implemented a criminal reference check policy.  This policy requires that a criminal reference check be completed for all volunteers and successful candidates for employment who will, as a result of their position, have direct contact with children or vulnerable adults.

This policy covers the procurement and release of employment references only.  Please refer to the University policy regarding Criminal Reference Checks.


This policy applies to all employees and prospective candidates for positions within the University.

Guidelines for Obtaining Employment References

1.    External Candidates

a.    All external applicants interviewed for a position at the University will be asked to provide written authorization to obtain reference information from current and former employers.

b.    Managers are responsible for obtaining references on potential employees. Human Resources may assist the hiring manager in obtaining employment references.

c.    Whenever possible, a minimum of two to three verbal references from current and/or former employers should be obtained for any candidate to whom a manager would consider making a job offer.  If the candidate has listed less than two reference sources he/she should be asked to provide names of individuals with whom he/she has been involved in a volunteer capacity, with community groups, etc.  References may include immediate superiors, peers and subordinates. References from those to whom a candidate reported, are preferred.      

d.    All candidates interviewed will be reminded during the interview process that references may be checked.  If the chosen candidate's reference is a current employer, the candidate will be contacted prior to the reference being called so that he/she can inform the referee.

e.    Reference information collected from outside sources will be maintained in Human Resources for the entire period of the individual's employment, along with other information from the selection process.

f.     References given to outside companies on current/former employees must be documented and maintained by the hiring manager. Records of references for terminated employees should be forwarded to Human Resources where they will be maintained in the employee file. All reference information, given or received, is considered to be confidential, and is protected under the Freedom of Information Guidelines, as this document relates to employment.

2.    Internal Candidates

a.    On commencing employment or on applying for an internal position with the University, the employee will be advised that if they are being considered for an internal competition, internal references, their personnel file, including documented performance appraisals, documented disciplinary action, and attendance records shall be made available to the hiring supervisor, and will form part of the hiring decision for the new position.

b.    Information on an internal candidate's previous performance shall normally be required following completion of an internal job competition procedure. The hiring manager may access the Human Resources file of the new staff member to review previous performance appraisals on file and other information as listed above.  Human Resources will also offer any assistance they can in this regard.

c.    Normally, the hiring manager will obtain internal references. At the request of the hiring manager, Human Resources may conduct internal reference checks.  These checks will be directly related to the competency requirements of the position into which the candidate will be hired and the results of the check will be incorporated into the interview and evaluation process.

d.    Managers and other University employees may respond to the line manager's or the Human Resources representative's requests for internal references in respect of the criteria developed by the selection panel and only to the extent that their comments are supported by documented information in the Human Resources files. Unsupportable commentary may not be considered or used in the selection process.

Guidelines for Releasing Employment References

The University releases employment references on current employees to prospective employers only with permission of the individual involved.  References are released without malice and in confidence to potential employers.  Where potential liability exists, it is recommended that the referee (the University manager) contact Human Resources for advice regarding appropriate disclosure.


This policy falls under the jurisdiction of the Vice President, Administration and Finance.  The interpretation and application of this policy is the responsibility of Human Resources.