In a competitive job market, it’s not uncommon for job seekers to embellish their achievements or omit potentially damaging information from their CV. It’s a risky strategy for the candidate, as under the Fraud Act 2006: it can potentially be a criminal offence to lie on a CV.

Even if a candidate’s embellishments on their job application do not constitute actual fraud, inaccurate information may result in poor hiring decisions. We take a look at how employers can protect themselves when candidates lie in their CV or job application.

Job offers

If a lie is uncovered before an employee has accepted a job, the offer of employment can be withdrawn. However, the employer should be prepared for disappointed applicants to allege the employer’s reason was unlawful (for example, that it was an act of discrimination). Employers should document their reasons for withdrawing a job offer and retain this evidence to support the decision.

Dismissal

An employee lying to their employer will usually go ‘to the root’ of the employment contract, undermining the employer’s trust and confidence in the employee, entitling the employer to dismiss the individual. Often a lie will be discovered during the employee’s probationary period, during which the employer is entitled to dismiss on a shorter notice period. A serious lie or omission may justify a summary (without notice) dismissal.

Criminal records

A robust employment contract will usually state the employee has an ongoing obligation to disclose any criminal convictions and an offer of employment will usually be conditional on a satisfactory criminal records’ check being received. If employees have lied about their criminal record, dismissal is likely to be reasonable.

Health

Employers should proceed with caution where job applicants or employees have withheld information relating to their health, even if their condition affects their ability to perform their role. There is no legal obligation on an employee to disclose a disability during the recruitment process and dismissing an employee when that disability comes to light is likely to be discriminatory. Employers should ask clear and concise questions during the questionnaire as to health issues. From this, a judgement can be made whether a candidate has truly been dishonest or simply dodged the issue.

In conclusion, prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes down to delicate HR and employment issues. Robust recruitment practices such as following up references and incisive questioning at interview have never been more important. If an employer suspects a candidate has been dishonest, they should do the extra investigative work prior to a contract of employment being offered. For example, looking into that gap in employment history, or sourcing a missing copy of a certificate.


The HR consultants at Aspire Cambridge are experts in this field. If you need help pre-screening candidates, checking CV’s or dealing with employment contract issues; call us today on 01223 855441.