In a recent ruling, the German Federal Labour Court confirmed that should an employee wish to challenge an employer’s ‘average’ job reference, it will be up to him to provide evidence that his performance was above-average.
Whilst job references should always reflect the true performance of an employee, if an individual feels that a reference underestimates his performance he can challenge his employer in court. In this case, it will be the employee’s responsibility to prove that he met the requirements for above average performance.
In practice, it is often difficult to prove that an individual’s performance was above what was expected by the employer, unless there is evidence of regular ‘good’ or ‘very good’ appraisal. However, the time and expense of the legal challenge has led to many employers reaching settlement agreements in favour of the employee – ie. the award of an above-average reference – in order to avoid further costs.
This unintended consequence of the Court ruling calls into question the value of job references for prospective employers.
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