The Government has announced that it will consult on proposals to require employers to give references as part of its response to the Women and Equalities Committee report on non-disclosure agreements.
The Government is to consult on a recommendation that employers should be required to provide, as a minimum, a basic reference for any former employee.
The proposal is part of a response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report on the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual harassment and discrimination at work.
They come amid concerns that employers have been withholding references from victims of sexual harassment and discrimination.
The Government has also outlined proposals for a requirement for employers to make clear the limitations of confidentiality clauses, in plain English, within a settlement agreement and in a written statement for an employee, so individuals signing them fully understand what they are signing and their rights; plans to extend current legislation so that individuals signing NDAs will get independent legal advice on the limitations of a confidentiality clause; and to introduce new enforcement measures to deal with confidentiality clauses that do not comply with legal requirements.
In its response to the report on NDAs, the Government said it was committed to introducing reforms that would prevent employers from misusing the agreements.
The Government said that it was unacceptable for employers to use NDAs to cover up harassment and discrimination. It also stated that the repeated inappropriate use of NDAs within an organisation may prevent it from recognising, and therefore addressing, significant underlying problems.
The Government agrees that online publication of tribunal judgments should not lead to blacklisting by future employers and must not be a barrier to potential claimants bringing discrimination claims.