Is it illegal to give a bad reference Australia?

In Australia, providing a bad reference for someone is not illegal, as long as the reference is truthful and not defamatory. However, there are legal considerations and potential consequences to keep in mind.


If the reference includes false statements that harm the person's reputation, it could be considered defamatory, and the person giving the reference might be subject to legal action.


While providing a bad reference itself may not be illegal, if the negative reference is based on discriminatory grounds, such as race, gender, disability, or other protected attributes, it may be considered unlawful discrimination.

Professional codes of conduct

Some professions and industries have specific codes of conduct and ethical guidelines that might require individuals to provide accurate and fair references.

Contractual agreements

In some cases, employment contracts or agreements may outline specific requirements or restrictions regarding the provision of references.

To avoid potential legal issues, it is generally advisable to provide honest and factual references, focusing on the individual's skills, performance, and qualifications, rather than personal opinions or subjective judgments. If you have concerns about providing a reference, you may want to seek legal advice or consult with your HR department to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

For more information regarding this topic, check out Seek's article on is it illegal to give a bad reference. Additionally, if you'd like to know more about the impacts of a negative reference, click the button below to read our article on whether a bad reference can cost someone a job.

Is it illegal to give a bad reference Australia?

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