I have walked out. How do I get a reference?

Dear Aunty B,


I have just left a well-known shopping website because of their inability to pay staff entitlements (wages and superannuation) and also their suppliers. I believe they have been trading insolvent for some months now.


As I was walking out the door on my last day, the owner said that I will not receive a written reference for 30 days. As this was my first full-time job, my written reference is extremely important to me. So my questions are: What are the consequences for trading while insolvent? And what is the usual (or legal) time frame in receiving my written reference? 





Dear Nic,


You receive your reference whenever the boss has time to write it. It is up to the employer when and if they write a reference, and there is no legal requirements at all for your boss to do so.


Trading insolvently is a completely different matter. Businesses must be able to pay their bills when they fall due. Otherwise the corporate watchdog can take action, and the company directors can end up in a lot of trouble.


But you must be sure of your facts before you make allegations. Many companies have cashflow issues at the moment because everyone is paying their bills late.

However that does not mean the company is insolvent, and it could well receive a big whack of cash tomorrow and never have a problem again!


On the other hand you do come across the odd employer who keeps trading when it is obvious their business is stuffed. They deliberately leave nothing in the kitty for employee entitlements. That’s inexcusable and a rotten thing to do.


It sounds like you have made up your mind to move on, so good luck. And if you want that reference make a pleasant pest of yourself so that the boss writes it to get you off his or her back.


Good luck!

Your Aunty B.


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