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When you apply for a job, the employer may request a certificate of employment. Potential employers use this to verify your employment history. Your previous or current employer issues the employment certificate when you request for it. As an employee leaving your present employment, your employer may also issue a clearance, which is a prerequisite to the issuance of a work certificate.

What is a certificate of employment?

A certificate of employment sample is no more than a single or a few pages long. It contains information about your employment experiences in the company. Some certificates of employment templates may look like a diploma while others can just be simple memorandums.

The certificate gets issued upon your request as an employee and you should receive it without undue delay. However, when you request this certificate of employment at a later date, this makes it difficult for your employer as they have to refer to past employee files.

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When do you need a certificate of employment?

When you stay with an employer gets terminated, you are, upon request, have a right to receive a written employment certificate. By law, the Employment Contracts Act specifies the information that an employer should include in the document. For the employer, refusing to give a certificate of employment is a punishable offense. Following are some reasons why you would request for a certificate of employment sample:

  • Applying for a new job
    This is the most common reason for requesting such a document. Since the work certificate contains your past work experience, potential employers use it to assess your qualifications. The certificate serves as evidence and as the starting point for an employer to prove whether you’re qualified or not.
  • Financial applications
    You can also apply for a certificate of employment even if you still work for the company. You can use this document for credit applications, loan applications, and other financial applications. Banks need to learn more about your current employment and your capacity to pay. This is the reason why you would request your employer to verify that you work regularly and receive a regular salary.
    In some certificates, you can request your employer to indicate the amount of your salary in the document. This further shows the bank that you have the capacity to make payments regularly. There is no reason why employers would turn down this specific request because there’s nothing illegal about it. This also is a valid management prerogative exercise.
  • Visa applications
    If you intend to travel abroad, you can ask for an employment certificate too. You would use this to convince governments to permit you to go out of the country. Having a regular and stable job in your country ensures that you will return after the trip. This is the reason why those who apply for a visa usually include this document in their application papers.

How to use a certificate of employment?

For instances when you ask for a certificate of employment for a reason like a visa application, it becomes a statement of fact about your employment. It doesn’t serve as a clearance, recommendation, Salary Certification Certificate of Good Moral Character, Waiver of Claim or any other document that you might use against your employer and vice versa.

By law, employers should issue a certificate of employment template upon the request of a current or former employee. There is, however, no legal requirement in terms of the signatories of the certificate nor is there a period of release. For purposes of practicality, this certificate usually comes from the HR department then signed by a member of that department or the officer who deals with employee matters.

As a Standard Operational Procedure, a work certificate is usually released after you have completed your clearance when you no longer work for your employer. Although there is no required time for the release of this document, employers shouldn’t unreasonably delay the release as this can become a punishable offense.

This certificate requires basic information about you as an employee including your position in the company and the duration of your employment. In some cases, it may also contain a list of your duties and responsibilities.

How to make a certificate of employment?

A certificate of employment sample is a crucial aspect of the employment relationship. As such, it should get delivered to all of the employees when their employment agreement gets terminated. Moreover, it’s also the company’s responsibility to provide an intermediary certificate upon your request.

As a rule, your employer must produce the certificate in writing then printed on a sheet of paper that shows the company’s name and business location clearly. This document must include the following information about you:

  • A detailed description of your roles in the company and all of the positions that you have held.
  • The start date of your employment and your last working day at the company.
  • An assessment of your behavior and performance during your stint in the company.

The employment certificate must reflect your actual behavior and performance – it should not contain any pejorative terms. The certificate should not state the cause of your termination although your employer can explain this in a letter of termination. Obviously, these reasons your employer would have already discussed these reasons with you in the course of your dismissal interview.

Employers should also note that they bear a responsibility towards both their departing employees and future employers. For instance, issuing a very commendable certificate that doesn’t correspond to reality could lead to an embezzlement case. This is an illegal act that has legal consequences for your previous employer.

Lastly, we have the cases of previous employees who already left the company who frequently request a copy of their work certificate. For this, it becomes an absolute necessity for the company to keep a copy of all certificates it issues to meet these requests.

How can I get an employment certificate?

There are several reasons why you should write a letter when requesting a certificate of employment. In many cases, you would need this document to show proof of employment when applying for a Visa, work permit, and more. You can also use it when you plan to apply for a loan, credit card or when opening a bank account.

There are a variety of acceptable formats you can use to type this request letter. Just make sure to mention the following information:

  • An explanation of what you’re requesting for
    If you already know whom to address your letter to, address it as such. Otherwise, it’s acceptable to write: “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” The first sentence of the letter should introduce who you are and the reason for your letter.
  • Outline specific details
    Give the recipient of the letter as many details as possible to make sure that your certificate contains all the relevant information that you need. When you provide vague, ambiguous or incomplete information may cause delays in the process, or worse, you might have to repeat the entire process again. Here are the key pieces of information you may ask to include in your employment certificate:
    Your job title
    The name of your immediate supervisor
    The company’s business address and contact details
    Your employee number
    The dates when you worked in the company
    Your salary
  • Some details of your contract
    If possible, make a request for them to print your certificate on the company’s letterhead. Depending on the purpose of your letter and its use, you may indicate whether you prefer an electronic signature or a PDF-emailed copy or if you want the document to be hand-signed on a printed hard copy. Also, indicate in your request if there is a need to notarize the document.
  • Help expedite your request
    Provide your recipient with as much relevant information as you can about yourself. This way, the recipient only needs to verify the information that you have provided. If you require the certificate right away, specify the date when you need it to make sure that you won’t miss the deadline.
    Always end your letter with your complete name and contact details. Also, make it a point to follow up a couple of days after you send your letter to make sure that your letter reached the right recipient.

Can you get a certificate of employment if you are terminated?

Even if you got dismissed from your employment, you are still entitled to request for or receive a certificate from your employer which specifies the dates of employment and termination of employment along with the type of work you handled during employment. By analogy, those who resigned from employment also deserve the same.

Keep in mind that a certificate of employment is not a clearance nor is it a recommendation, endorsement or anything else. It also isn’t a waiver on the part of your employer to file legal action against you. The certificate is merely proof of your service record. Nothing more, nothing less.


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