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July 1 2009

Lies on employee CV - what to do.

Darlingtons solicitors Head of Litigation David Rosen reports how Inaccurate or deliberately false career history and academic qualifications are problem employers underestimate at their peril. and how Verifile can help.  The figures on this are disturbing and quite staggering since, with research indicating that over half of CVs contain lies or inaccuracies which can range from gaps in employment history to false claims regarding qualifications and failure to mention fraud committed against previous employers.  If a potential employee is prepared to lie before even starting employment with you, there must be an increased risk of a problem down the line, perhaps incompetence but also fraud or theft.

he states that It is always worth screening employees thoroughly and there are many excellent companies that run very thorough checks, including Verifile. A difficult issue can arise as regards criminal records, which are clearly a concern for employees. In most cases, you can ask an employee the question but if you are cautious or suspicious, in most industries, you would need the applicants consent to apply for a formal Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. If the applicant refuses, you may draw your own conclusions from that, which in turn leads onto the next topic.

Conditional job offers and contractual terms – can an offer be withdrawn ?

Having found an applicant you want to offer a job to, there is often a delay while you verify academics, career history and references and one way of covering your position is to make the job offer expressly conditional on the results of your enquiries being satisfactory. In addition, it is important to include in your contracts if employment a specific clause stating that it is a fundamental term of the employee’s employment that their application for employment was accurate.

Right to dismiss for lies on cv based on breach of contract ?

Having an express clause in the employment contract on this issue, is, as detailed above recommended. However, the terms in an employment contract are not necessarily decisive in the event of a dispute. If you find that an employee has lied to you about their history this is very likely to be a breach of the duty of mutual trust and confidence implied into every employment relationship.

Whether it gives you the right to dismiss the employee will probably depend on :-

  • how serious is the lie
  • what type of job role the employee undertakes
  • how long the employee has been working for you and his/her performance and trustworthiness other than the incorrect information
  • industry or profession specific factors –it may be imperative, for example, if you are a regulated business, that an employee has certain qualifications or does not have a criminal record. In that case, you may have stronger grounds for taking action to terminate the employment.

As an employer, you should always follow fair process even if you find that the employee has lied to you and give the employee the right to explain. Be wary also if possible discrimination – what caused you to double check this employee ? If it was only based on race, for example, you need to be careful.

Other than dismissal, what options are available to the employer ?

Based on the employee’s breach of contract and potentially the decision to dismiss, other issues can arise such as the position on any fees paid to recruitment consultants. What about the costs of recruiting a replacement member of staff ? You may well have the right to sue the employee but in reality, this is rare,a nd of course depends, primarily on whether he or she is worth suing – will they be likely or able to pay any judgment amount awarded ?

Other alternatives of course include a formal and possibly even a final warning if you decide not to dismiss, and again, be sure to follow correct process if you go down the disciplinary route.

Misrepresentation is also a legal consideration, aside from the strict breach of contract issue. this is where you argue that you were induced by an inaccurate statement of fact to employ the employee.