When an employer receives a letter from Job Centre Plus asking for information about an ex-employee it is a legal requirement to respond, in the form that has been requested, and within the time period stated. It is a criminal offence to:
- intentional delay or obstruct the Authorised Officer of the Job Centre Plus in the exercise of their powers;
- refuse or neglect to comply with a requirement to allow access to electronic records; and
- refuse or neglect to answer any question or to furnish any information or produce any document when required to do so.
It’s not uncommon for employers to receive a questionnaire from Job Centre Plus asking to know the reasons for the employment coming to an end, but for the employer and now ex-employee to be in dispute about the reasons behind this. An initial refusal to provide information will not be considered an intentional delay or obstruction, where the refusal is given in order to seek legal advice before responding. However, the advice in that scenario would be to respond truthfully (e.g. the employee was dismissed, the employee walked out etc) but to include a reference to any ongoing or even potential dispute.