Reference checks should be undertaken for all competitions. This applies to internal and external hiring at all levels within the organization, including bargaining unit positions. In instances where the successful candidate is reporting to the hiring manager, a reference check may not be required, however documentation communicating knowledge of satisfactory past performance must be placed in the hiring file.
Individuals who check or give references on behalf of the City of Toronto must be knowledgeable about the requirements of legislation and collective agreement provisions that are relevant to employment references. They should also inform external referees of the relevant requirements when they contact outside employers for references. These requirements include the following principles:
- reference checks should be done only for the finalists in a competition after the assessment process is completed
- the applicant's written consent for each individual referee must be provided before any reference checking is done
- before disclosing reference information about a former employee, the referee must see the individual's written permission
- any information disclosed, when giving references, is honest, objective, accurate, and free of malicious intent
- due care must be exercised when disclosing information to ensure that it is factual and not the result of rumour or hearsay
- the only information sought or disclosed is that which is relevant to the requirements of the job
Reference questions must be related to the key competencies and bona fide qualifications of the job.
All employment reference information must be documented and form part of the hiring file.
References are considered only when they are from recent employers or other appropriate sources, such as teachers or volunteer organizations for candidates without previous work experience. References from members of the City of Toronto Council are not acceptable unless a councillor has been the applicant’s employer, supervisor, or teacher.
At least two reference checks are required to be completed for every external hire and a minimum of one reference check for every internal hire.
Employment references for each hiring process should be conducted using similar questions; the questions for checking references are to be related to the job and therefore will not be the same questions for each job
Any information that has been given as a reference will only be disclosed to the candidate with the written consent of the referee. Reference information may not be disclosed if requested under a Freedom of Information request as most employment related information falls outside the scope of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).