A recruitment firm for nannies and nursery staff has been forced by the Information Commissioner’s Office to disclose confidential reference information on a job applicant.
However, child carers will not have an automatic right to gain access to references provided by previous employers, according to the information commissioner, who said that childcare was a sensitive area and that each case would be taken on its merits in the future.
The dispute started when an unnamed nursery nurse asked to see a reference under the Data Protection Act after failing to secure a job through Tinies last year. Ben Black, director of Tinies, said he was disappointed with the final judgment in the individual case, but was pleased that there was still some scope to withhold references.
“Our argument has always been that childcare is a special case. It is essential that the person giving the reference feels absolutely free to give an honest and open reference. We feared a blanket policy of disclosure could put children at risk,” he said.
“Nursery managers – and in the case of nannies, parents – would think it was not worth the recriminations with a former employee if they gave them a poor reference that they might deserve. By fighting this case, we have avoided the blanket policy,” he added.