Labor law question: Does the boss always have to issue a good reference?

Job references are often still important in the application process.

Labor law question: Does the boss always have to issue a good reference?

Job references are often still important in the application process. The certificate should not unnecessarily complicate professional advancement. So how good does it have to be?

A job reference should not prevent professionals from advancing in their careers. That is what the legislature and the courts have decided. Does that mean that employees who leave must at least get a good reference?

no "The employer is not obliged to issue a good reference," clarifies Anke Marx, a lawyer at the Saarland Chamber of Labor. However, the reference must be benevolent and truthful and must not unnecessarily impede the professional advancement of an employee.

There is often a tension here for employers. What if an employee has really not performed well? For this reason, a reference language has developed "that often describes the performance and behavior of employees in cryptic terms," ​​says Marx. A brief search on the Internet or in specialist literature can often help to translate such formulations correctly.

According to the lawyer, illegal "secret codes" are not allowed on the certificate. According to case law, the tabular form with school grades is also inadmissible, as the Federal Labor Court ruled in a judgment (Az.: 9 AZR 262/20). Employers can do without closing and thank you formulas if they want. According to settled case law, there is usually no entitlement to this, according to Marx.

If you do not agree with a certificate, you can lodge a complaint with your employer. If the content is still incorrect, "after an unsuccessful complaint, the only option is to file a lawsuit". Employers would have to prove ratings that are worse than "satisfactory" in court, explains the legal expert.

If, on the other hand, employees want a grade better than "satisfactory", it is their duty to prove in court that they deserve a better grade.

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