Employment history and reference checks

Guidance on the process of seeking references and verifying employment and training history.

18 March 2022

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Please be aware, NHS Employers has published temporary pre-employment check requirements for employers to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read the information available in our guidance section.

This standard outlines the requirements for seeking references to verify a candidate's employment and/or training history.

Four reference templates which outline the minimum data set that should be sought or provided in response to reference requests accompany the standard:

Please note that NHS Employers does not hold any information about individuals who are working or have worked in the NHS. All reference requests should be sent to the HR or personnel department at the relevant NHS organisation directly. Reference requests sent to will not receive a response. 

Further guidance

See the list of recognised persons of some standing in the community who may be asked to provide a personal or character reference, if a candidate is genuinely unable to provide you with the necessary employment and/or training for the prescribed three year period. 

Access further information about meeting the fit and proper person requirements for director level positions.

There are six employment check standards that employers must undertake as part of their recruitment processes. Read the background information about the purpose of the standards, who they apply to and how to meet compliance and view our frequently asked questions.

  • March 2022

    • Standard reformatted to make it easier to refer to. Wording changed to make requirements clearer. Links updated throughout.
    • Section ‘how to seek a reference’ moved to earlier in the document.
    • Reference templates made into separate, editable documents.

    April 2019

    • Pages 3 - 4: clarified guidance outlining how employers can use the most recent reference to NHS to NHS moves, rather than gaining employment history for the past three years.
    • Page 9: a new section on armed forced references and using certificate of service as a potential reference. 
    • Page 9: updated section to highlight how employers should report any serious concerns on discrepancies in information provided to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority.