PDPA and Reference Check

Dear Fellow HR Practitioners,

I understand that some companies do not provide information about their ex-employees for reference checks due to PDPA.

Therefore, the usual HR practice is to obtain the consent of the employees who are leaving the organisation to disclose information about their employment history in the event of reference checks by their potential future employers.

So how do we obtain the consent of the staff to reveal their personal information like NRIC etc?

Appreciate your advice.

We are in the educational industry.

Thank you.




HR Poll: Do you still conduct reference checks despite PDPA?

Yes: 68.42%

No: 5.26%

Maybe: 10.53%

Not sure: 15.79%




Prepare a certificate of service to the staff before they leave and pass it to them. The future employers will then obtain the information from them. - LCH

His/her potential employer should obtain his/her consent that reference checks will be done. This can be done using the application form (a clause mentioned there specifically) or via a separate agreement that the candidate signs. Once received, we will take it as his/her consent that we can conduct a background check. We will only focus on his factual performance and will not ask any personal data (i.e. NRIC, etc). - Christine

You should request the verifier to provide a document that shows the ex-employee agreed to this reference check and has signed on the at document. The signature must tally with the record you have in their p-file. - May

Hi Serene, when the future employer or their appointed vendor approaches us for reference check, they have to provide us with a signed consent from our ex-employee stating that they agree to disclose information. Even with that we only verify information such as - period of employment and designation. Other information such as salary, reason for leaving will not be shared. - Sharon

Usually, the staff who has left will give his/her new employer/recruitment agency consent to conduct his/her reference check. I doubt the leaving staff will be willing to give a blanket consent to allow his/her details to be disclosed for reference check without his/her prior approval. - Jennifer

PDPA isn't an issue if the employee gives their permission for their data to be shared though, however it can be withdrawn so should be at a point in time not made in advance generally - this perhaps needs to be explicit in your comms with the ex-company when asking for checks rather than setting up in advance for a possible request. - Charlotte

In general, if any employer wishes to conduct a reference check on a potential candidate, they would arrange for the candidate to sign a letter of authorization for the said purpose. HR will require a copy of the signed letter before they provide employment history of the candidate to the requestor. - Leann

Yes, better to get consent or companies will not provide. - Sam

Ask for departed employee consent. - Nancy



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