Providing a professional reference

UW System institutions must follow certain minimum procedures when a potential employer makes a reference check regarding a current or former employee.

The potential employer should receive an objective evaluation of the candidate’s training, experience, skills, abilities, and job performance as they relate to the duties and responsibilities of the job for which the candidate is being considered.

When a supervisor or agent of management is contacted by a potential employer for a reference check of a current or former employee, the supervisor or agent must notify the potential employer, even if they do not ask, of the appropriate UW System institution contact for any questions related to employee misconduct (including any violation of sexual violence or sexual harassment policies). The appropriate UW System institution contact must disclose whether the employee has ever been found to have engaged in, is currently under investigation for, or left during an active investigation in which they were accused of sexual violence or sexual harassment.

To satisfy this requirement, a UW System institution must mandate the use of a disclaimer by the supervisor or designated individual responding to a reference check regarding a current or former employee. The disclaimer could be disclosed either at the beginning or the end of the reference check, as long as the potential employer has been notified of the option to obtain information regarding any misconduct. A UW System institution could use the following sample disclaimer:

All questions related to employee misconduct including sexual misconduct are addressed only by our human resources department, which can be contacted at 608.785.8013 or This isn’t meant to imply that this candidate has committed any misconduct but is something we are required by policy to tell all potential employers.

When the potential employer is another UW System institution or state agency, the personnel file of the current or former employee must be shared upon hire (see SYS 1261, Personnel Files).

Sample language and procedures can be found in Appendix 4pdf .

Policy Reference: UW System Administrative Policy 1275