New Requirement for Supervisors Providing Reference Checks

The University of Wisconsin System has recently made a change to Operational Policy TC1: Recruitment Policies as of January 1, 2019 that affects all supervisors when providing a reference for either a current or former employee. The policy indicates that an employee is defined as an individual who holds a faculty, academic staff, university staff or limited appointment with the institution. This policy does not apply to student employees or graduate assistants.

In accordance with this policy, if 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 of the appropriate UWGB contact for any questions regarding that employee’s misconduct (including any violation of sexual violence or sexual harassment policies), even if the potential employer does not specifically ask.

To satisfy the new requirements, UW System now requires the use of a disclaimer by the supervisor or agent responding to a reference check. The disclaimer can 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. We recommend using the following disclaimer:

“All questions related to employee misconduct including sexual misconduct are addressed only by our human resources department, which can be contacted by email at 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”

This new policy is not intended to discourage or eliminate the supervisor from providing an objective evaluation of the current or former employees training, experience, skills, abilities, and job performance as they relate to the duties and responsibilities of the job for which they are being considered.

Please note colleagues with no supervisory responsibilities are not required to use the disclaimer if contacted for a reference.

If you have any questions about the required disclaimer or the new policy, please contact Megan Noltner by phone at Ext. 2948 or email at