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Employment history and reference checks  

This page outlines the requirements for verifying employment history and obtaining references. 

Image of blue folderThe Employment history and reference check standard outlines the requirements for seeking references and verifying employment history and/or training in the NHS.  This standard is one of six documents forming the NHS Employment Check Standards. 

The NHS Employment Check Standards were last revised in July 2013 following consultation with key stakeholders and employers in the NHS.    

Key changes which came into force from July 2013 include:

  • clarity on minimum requirements
  • clarification the type of information which is required as part of an employment history and reference check
  • clarity on who references need to be provided by i.e. through HR or other personnel function
  • the use of standardised templates to obtain information - see Appendices at the back of this document
  • clarity around seeking electronic confirmation 
  • clarification of the circumstances in which an employer should request personal references
  • clarity of requirements for internal applicants and doctors on training rotations
  • clarity on when to obtain employment history and reference check for time spent overseas
  • guidelines on handling incoming reference requests 
  • guidelines on checking authenticity of information received. 

The Standards are subject to periodic review to ensure that they accurately reflect policy and legislative changes as they come into force. Where downloading hardcopies of these standards, employers will need to ensure that they refer to the correct version to ensure they are fully compliant with legal requirements. Any further amendment to these documents will be published in the NHS Workforce Bulletin.

Frequently asked questions:

Please see our Q&A document which provides supplementary guidelines to employers on employment checking requirements, including employment history and references. 

This document is regularly updated with the most frequently asked questions raised by employers, therefore we would recommend that you refer to the online document to ensure you have the most up to date advice.

If your query has not been covered in this document, please do not hesitate to email us at:

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