When an employee leaves, it is best to come to an explicit agreement regarding what information relating to the ex-employee you will disclose, and to whom it can be disclosed. Obviously, you want to be protected from any claims that your comments cost the employee a chance at a new job. At the same time, you don't want to be put in a situation where you are uncomfortable with the information that you feel you have to provide. Remember that, as an employer, you may establish any policy that you wish. You can decide to never furnish references, or to verify only the fact and dates of employment. You can also condition the furnishing of references on obtaining a release from the former employee.
The attached file contains a sample employment reference release that spells out the terms under which references will be provided. This release is designed to protect you, as a former employer, when you make information available to a prospective employer. It requires the former employee to release your business from any potential liability resulting from the furnishing of information to authorized recipients.
The file is in rich text format (RTF) that is suitable for use with most word processing programs used in the Windows environment.
Employee reference release form
Limiting Employment Reference Risks