While assisting employer clients with settlement negotiations on a conclusion of employment, I often advise not to simply agree to do a letter of reference; but instead to get agreement on the exact content of that letter at the initial time of settlement. The reason for this is you do not want to settle the major money issues and be left arguing about wording in the letter of reference later.
The quote below is from a relatively recent Ontario Arbitration award, which essentially allowed a grievor employee to back out of a settlement because agreement was never reached on a letter of reference.
If you have agreed to provide a letter of reference as part of a settlement, this case serves as a vivid reminder that you should craft and get agreement on the content of that letter at the time settlement is reached, not later.
What we do know is that in the present case the extent and wording of that Letter was of importance to the grievor, and that aspect of the case, to use the words of Arbitrator Lynk’s “summation” set out earlier, was clearly a fundamental, and not a secondary aspect of bringing the matter to a close. That, in my respectful view, is a significant enough feature of the present case to lead to the conclusion, on the question put before me, that no final settlement of the grievance was ever reached by the parties.