According to research by the Risk Advisory Group, more than half of CVs submitted by job applicants contain lies or inaccuracies. These range from gaps in employment history to false claims regarding qualifications and failure to mention fraud committed against previous employers.
Earlier research, carried out by MORI, revealed that almost a third of those questioned admitted to lying when applying for a job. Whether or not one can infer from this a rising trend in the problem, in an increasingly competitive job market there is pressure on applicants to make themselves stand out from the crowd.
So what can you do if you discover that one of your employees has secured a job by lying? There are two potential actions available to the employer either for breach of contract or under the law of misrepresentation.
Breach of Contract
If an employee continues to work for you without revealing the truth, then they are in breach of the duty of trust and confidence which is implied in every employment contract. If the breach is 'fundamental',an employer can dismiss the employee immediately, without notice or compensation. An example of a fundamental breach might be lying about the class of degree obtained. Care must be taken to make sure the breach of contract is sufficiently serious to justify such action.
Misrepresentation arises where an inaccurate statement of fact is made which induces the employer to enter into a contract of employment. The misrepresentation need not be the only inducement. For example, an employee who falsely claims to have a good academic record may have made other statements on their CV that are true. If the misrepresentation was a material factor in inducing the employer to offer the candidate the job, the employer may be entitled to compensation. This might include the cost of a replacement, recruitment agency fees and any training costs incurred.
In some cases there could be criminal consequences. A job applicant who lies may be guilty of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception under the Theft Act 1968, which specifically includes obtaining employment.
Giving false information on a CV can seriously affect an employee's future job prospects. If you are asked for a reference by someone who has been dismissed for lying on their CV, you should not give a reference that is inaccurate or misleading. You do have the option of not providing a reference at all.
What to Do
Employers are advised not to take at face value the information candidates put on their CVs. Carry out checks for those candidates short-listed for a job. There are organisations that can carry out the checks for you, or you can verify information with former employers yourself. Ask to see certificates relating to relevant qualifications. Letters to job applicants should make it clear that you attach great importance to the accuracy of the information included in a CV and stress your right to dismiss an employee who provides untrue or misleading information.