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Wake-up call: Consequences of fraudulent CVs

10 April 2008
Wake-up call: Consequences of fraudulent CVs

The problem

We recruited a restaurant manager for one of our hotels. He claimed to have relevant qualifications and several years' experience as a high-level manager in the trade, but we now suspect he may have lied on his CV as he seems to be struggling with the pressure and responsibilities. What can we do?

The law

Your new manager is clearly not up to the job and yet, according to his CV, he should be able to cope easily. While the new manager does not have sufficient service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal - and you could dismiss on grounds of capability - there is likely to be the cost of having to meet his contractual rights to notice pay.

However, if it is found that he has lied on his CV then this would give grounds to dismiss summarily. In addition, the employee would potentially be guilty of the criminal offence of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception.

Expert advice

In order to avoid the problems caused by misleading CVs, the accuracy of representations made in the CV should be checked before the employee starts work. Claims made regarding experience, salary, qualifications, age, work history and job title are relatively easy to verify. Where discrepancies are discovered after the employment has started, the employee should be asked to explain them. In most cases, the employee is likely to resign when rumbled, but in any event where there have been serious misrepresentations it will generally be gross misconduct and grounds for summary dismissal.

Fraudulent CVs are a growing problem as the job market becomes more competitive. Applicants are seemingly more willing to say anything to land the fewer jobs available. More than ever before, hoteliers must be alive to the fact that many people fabricate CVs, whether it's qualifications, hobbies or previous employments. Only last year it was reported in a survey carried out by the pre-employment screening company, Risk Advisory Group, that half of all CVs contain some sort of lies, while one in five feature serious misrepresentations such as falsified exam results and work experience.

It can happen at any level of the industry, whether the job is waiting at tables or managing a national hotel chain. Last year it was reported that the head of Asia Pacific operations for InterContinental Hotels Group resigned following the discovery that he had misled his employers into believing that he had three university degrees.

Check list

To protect oneself against fraudulent CVs, the recruitment process should be revised to ensure that there are adequate safeguards in place.

  • Job offers should always be made conditional upon satisfactory references being received and background checks completed. Make sure the candidate is asked for express consent to carry out the checks.
  • The start date should, where possible, be delayed until checks are completed.
  • It should be emphasised that a truthful application is vital.
  • There should be a probationary period with a shorter notice period.
  • Check academic qualifications with awarding establishment.
  • References should be confirmed with the relevant employer or organisation.
  • Whenever possible, contact the referee by telephone as they are likely to be more open about the candidate this way.
  • Always check experience with previous employers and prepare technical questions to ask during the interview.
  • Consider using a background screening company.

While these checks may seem onerous, there are potentially very serious consequences if a candidate bluffs his way into a senior position for which he does not possess the qualifications or experience. Not only is the business likely to lose customers but the appointment will inevitably cause unrest among other employees, and then there is the embarrassment of having to correct the situation. Having to repeat the whole recruitment process again will also be costly.

Contact

www.halliwells.com

michael.ball@halliwells.com

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