A reference from a historic or previous employer may be required if you are looking at applying for a new job. There is no definitive length or prescribed format for a job reference, so an employer can make this as short as the choose. Some references may only include your job title and the dates that you were employed by the company. On the other hand, your previous employer may include some prose about your time in their employment. The only stipulation is that the reference must be accurate and fair. If the reference is not accurate, and leads to you not getting a job, you can take your previous employer to court. This however may take some time and may not give you the resolution you seek.
A prospective employer may call your present or previous employer to verify the details of the reference or provide more information, so it is prudent that contact details are provided. It is possible to get a job without a reference, but your prospective employer may question why they cannot request one from your previous employer.
You may ask your employer for a copy of the reference, but they are under no obligation to provide it. However, if you are successful in getting a job with your new employer, they can provide you with a copy.
Some prospective employers may ask for verification of a reference. A Notary can provide this if required. In order to do this, you will first need to complete a consent form, allowing your previous employer to release details of your employment to the Notary. The Notary will then contact your previous employer, submit the completed consent form, and check that all the details in the reference are accurate and correct.