Refusing a request for reference
It is common to be asked for a reference for previous employees or sometimes people we know on a personal basis. Usually we are happy to provide this for the person concerned, however there may be times when you are reluctant to give one. There can be many reasons for this, perhaps the employee left due to poor performance or bad time keeping? It is usual to not give a bad reference so refusing to give one is a much better option. The new employee will read between the lines, or maybe the ex employee will perform better in another position? Whatever the reason, the refusal letter should be short, polite and not make any personal comments about the person concerned.
Sample letter refusing a request for a reference
[ Address of business / person requesting reference]
[Today’s date]Dear [name of person requesting reference]
Although I am normally happy to provide a reference for [a former employee / friend / acquaintance] in this instance I’m afraid I must decline as I believe it would be inappropriate to do so because I simply [do not know the applicant well enough / could not locate sufficient information / other reason].
I know that [he /she] was [employed / resident] here from [date] to [date], but offering any character testimony beyond that would be conjecture on my part.
If there is anything else I can help with please feel free to ask.