What to do if someone lies on their CV

What do you do if you find out one of your employees has lied on their CV?

Unfortunately it seems to be a common occurrence for people to fudge, exaggerate, embellish or fabricate parts of their CV in order to appear more attractive to a prospective employer.

Some examples include:

  • Changing employment dates to avoid explaining a gap in employment
  • Claiming they have qualifications they haven’t achieved
  • Stating they have got a 2.1 when really they obtained a 2.2 in their university degree
  • Lying about their criminal record
  • Exaggerating their remuneration package
  • Embellishing their role duties
  • Fibbing about the companies they have worked for
  • Faking references.

The employee’s fib may be a little white lie, but in some cases, it may be very serious indeed. For instance it is essential for employees to have certain qualifications to carry out their job in certain regulated professions.

Pre employment

If you discover that a job applicant has lied prior to a job offer being accepted, the offer can be revoked. This may lead to one very unhappy job applicant, who may believe that the reason for withdrawing the job offer was unlawful, for example it was an act of discrimination, and raise a claim. This is why it is essential that you have clear records which set out the reason you decided to revoke the offer.

During employment

If you find out an employee has lied after they have been employed, the action you can take will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. Serious lies could breach the implied duty of trust and confidence, which could amount to gross misconduct resulting in summary dismissal.

Remember that employees who have a minimum of two years of service can bring a claim of unfair dismissal. If the employee has shown that they are competent at their job and the lie does not affect their ability to perform their job duties, it will be hard for the dismissal to be considered fair.

The lie can amount to fraud, for example, they present a fake qualification certificate. It could be a criminal offence and result into a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

What can employers do to prevent this?

Do not make assumptions – if something is unclear or suspicious or you notice discrepancies, you should ask the applicant directly.

Do not just rely on the information provided by a recruitment consultant – you should carry out all the necessary checks.

When you make an offer of employment, it should be made conditional on certain requirements, for example, satisfactory references, a criminal record check, a qualifications check or a health check. A conditional job offer can be withdrawn if the applicant does not fulfil all the conditions of the offer.

You should clearly set out in Contracts of Employment and Employee Handbooks that serious lies or misrepresentations on their CV or application form will be considered to be gross misconduct.

If you would like to discuss this area further, contact your Employment Law Adviser for guidance.