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Lying on a CV – the consequences

Written by: Mark Stevens
Published on: 20 Jan 2023

Image: © stas111 / Adobe Stock Stevens Image: © stas111 / Adobe Stock

Lying on a CV can have some serious consequences for both employees and employers.

It may be that a CV includes inaccurate details around a person’s job history or qualifications. It may be that gaps between jobs are disguised.

Regardless, making dishonest claims on a CV can amount to fraud by false representation. The Fraud Act 2006 states that a person is guilty of fraud if they dishonestly make a false representation, and intend, by making the representation, to make a gain for themselves or another, or to cause loss to another.

If fraudulent information is included on the job applicant’s CV, then not only could this lead to a claim for damages from an employer, but the job applicant could also be guilty of a criminal offence.

Options for employers who discover lies

If a prospective employer has discovered that a job applicant has lied on their CV before the individual’s employment has actually started, consideration should be given to revoking the employment offer.

Where possible, job offers should be made conditional and subject to satisfactory references or evidence of qualifications.

Serious inaccuracies and lies on a CV, and/or during an interview may result in a breach of the duty of trust and confidence implied in every employment contract. Lying on a CV could amount to gross misconduct, entitling the employer to summarily bring the employment relationship to an end.

Lying on a CV can, therefore, allow an employer the right to summarily dismiss the employee without notice or compensation. Care should be taken, however, to ensure that the breach is sufficiently serious to justify summary dismissal – a genuine mistake or minor inaccuracy on a CV, or during an interview, may not be sufficient to irretrievably damage the trust and confidence between employer and employee, entitling summary dismissal.

An employer could also pursue a misrepresentation claim to seek compensation for the loss suffered as a result of the inaccurate information. An employer could argue they were induced to enter into a contract of employment by an inaccurate statement by the employee. If it can be established that the misrepresentation was a material factor in inducing the offer of employment, then the employer may be entitled to compensation. Potentially, this could include the cost of replacing the employee, and any recruitment agency fees and training fees incurred.

The consequences and potential penalties for the employee

As stated previously, fraud is a crime and, therefore, a person lying on their CV could be committing a criminal offence.

Lying about skills or qualifications may also mean that an employee will not be able to perform their duties to the required standard. If this happens, the employee may be unable to complete their probation period or find they are subject to a performance management process. This could lead to formal warnings, capability meetings and, ultimately, dismissal.

Lying on a CV could impact the content of an employment reference. An employer has no legal obligation to provide a reference in respect to a formal employee, but if they do so, the reference must be true and accurate. This could mean that reference to the inaccuracies could be recorded on an employment reference.

This will cause further problems in the future for that employee when trying to secure alternative employment.

R versus Andrewes

In the case of R versus Andrewes (2022), a court found Mr Andrewes had falsely claimed to have relevant qualifications and experience that were essential to the chief executive position he applied for.

Mr Andrewes was appointed to the role in 2004; however, his employment was terminated in 2015 when the truth about his qualifications and experience came to light.

In 2017, Mr Andrewes was convicted of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and two counts of fraud. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and the Crown sought a confiscation order against him.

The Supreme Court ordered that nearly £100,000 of his earnings should be confiscated.

Although this case is a rarity, it does show that CV fraud can lead to serious consequences for an individual.

Steps for employers

Firstly, employers should make it clear to job applicants they will be attaching significant importance to the accuracy of the information provided in the job applicant’s CV.

The employer can also highlight that it reserves its right to summarily dismiss and/or seek compensation if any information provided in a CV is misleading or inaccurate.

Employers should make it clear to the job applicant what specific information is being relied on when discussing and offering contracts of employment to those employees.

Employers may wish to go a step further and ask job applicants to sign a written declaration to confirm that their application, and information provided during the course of the recruitment process, is true and accurate.

Employers should seek proof of the job applicant’s qualifications and ask to see evidence relating to them. Employers should consider the risk posed by a prospective employee providing inaccurate information and investigate accordingly.

It would be prudent to make offers of employment conditional on the employer receiving satisfactory references.

Further questions may need to be asked of a recruitment agency where necessary – it should not be assumed that background checks have been carried out thoroughly.

Employers should also review the way in which they run a recruitment process; for example, putting an assessment in place for job applicants.

Consider the data protection issues

Lastly, an employer should think carefully about the information and data that they will be collecting in relation to candidates and employees.

The employer should also have good reasons for doing so, and provide candidates and employees with the appropriate privacy notices. Information must be stored securely in line with data protection laws.

  • This article first featured in 17 January 2023 issue of Vet Times (Volume 53, Issue 3, Pages 16-18).