As a business it can be difficult to find the right talent to help your business thrive. Especially for fast-growing startups, having reliable people is extremely important. 

This is where the issue of CV fraud comes up – during the hiring process, or maybe even after you’ve employed someone, you might find inconsistencies in your staff member’s CV. 

CV fraud is something that can affect all employment positions in all businesses regardless of their size or resources.

This article will walk you through some of the practical steps you can take to prevent and deal with CV fraud as an employer.

What Is CV Fraud? 

CV fraud is when an employee or prospective employee lies on their CV. However, there are of course differing levels of lying and consequences.

Some common lies or embellishments may include the level of experience an employee has, where they worked in the past, what roles they had in their previous jobs, what educational qualifications they have, and more. 

Employees might lie on their CV to be considered for a role they otherwise wouldn’t be, or to up their bargaining power when it comes to discussing their pay. 

While there is not much an employer can do to prevent lying on a CV, sensible background checks can ensure the candidate’s resume is truthful. 

What Are The Consequences For Your Business?

The potential ramifications for your business are huge, as well as financial setbacks, hiring someone on a wrongful basis can impact morale in your company. Here is how;

  • Social – the employee who lied on their CV might also have some less than pleasant personality attributes that they have brought to your business, and this could impact other staff. 
  • Other forms of fraud – the employee may continue to commit further acts of fraud once they are hired and could harm your business’ reputation
  • Slowing business growth – if the employee doesn’t have the right qualifications you thought they had, they’re not pulling their weight
  • Financial impact – you’ve just been paying wages based on an incorrect assumption that you would receive a certain level of skill in return
  • Vicarious liability – as a business, you could be vicariously liable for the actions of your employee. If an employee does not have the correct skills or qualification for the role, this will impact on others and could even cause harm to customers.  
  • Your business could be investigated for maladministration practices in the hiring process

Example of Vicarious Liability

Tobias runs a horse riding business for tourists in the Snowy Mountains.

He hires another tour operator, Julie, who says she has 8 years experience as a horse riding tour operator in Sydney, and has completed a tour operating course at TAFE.

Tobias doesn’t check the references on Julie’s CV, and also doesn’t ask for a copy of her TAFE certification. In reality, Julia has only worked with horses for 6 months, and is in her first semester of the TAFE course.

While leading a tour group alone, Julie fails to notice a horse is unwell, and also doesn’t tell her group to wear proper safety gear. The horse trips and falls with the rider, causing severe injury to both.

The rider sues the horse riding business for negligence. 

What Can Employers Do After The Fact?

In most cases, normal disciplinary measures should be undertaken before going straight to dismissal. 

Depending on the extent of the fraud, the employment contract could be breached, and the employee may be terminated.

In some circumstances, while the fraud is being investigated, the employee might be suspended with or without pay. It’s important to follow disciplinary procedures carefully, as you don’t want to run the risk of an employee making a claim of unfair dismissal

In Stapleton v City of Parramatta Council [2019] NSWSC 123, anomalies were found in Mr Stapleton’s CV. While this was being investigated, Mr Stapleton was suspended with full pay. Mr Stapleton tried to prevent his dismissal by arguing the proper dispute resolution process in his employment contract was not followed. Mr Stapleton was unsuccessful, and was eventually dismissed. 

In some extreme cases, the employee who obtained their job by lying on their CV can even be imprisoned for committing fraud. 

In a recent case, a staff member of the Department of Premier and Cabinet was charged with deception, abuse of public office, and dishonestly dealing with documents. In this case, the staff member lied about her work history and education in her CV, and even made up false references and gave fake payslips from her previous work. The employee was sentenced for 12 months.

How Can You Discourage Or Check Potential CV Fraud?

The simplest thing you can do as an employer is to run thorough background checks and follow up with references. 

As part of the application process, you could also ask that the employer sign a contract stating all of the information they have supplied you is honest, and that they are aware of the consequences of dishonest conduct. 

The employment contract itself should have a clause stating the employee has provided all relevant information for the purposes of their employment, which is honest and accurate. The employment contract should state the consequences should the employee engage in dishonest conduct. 

In addition, we’ve put together some other ideas your organisation might like to think about to discourage CV fraud. 

  • Annual CV auditing can alert future and current staff that CVs will be followed up on
  • Publishing the CV online for the whole business to view could discourage CV fraud
  • Including the consequences of CV fraud in your workplace policy, and publishing this online
  • Checking the employee’s Linkedin profile
  • When undertaking reference checks, also try to use contact details that are publicly available, for instance an organisation’s landline, rather than relying on a mobile number the referee has provided

The Takeaway

While the consequences of CV fraud can be wide ranging and serious for both the employer and employee, preventing CV fraud can be relatively simple and cheap.

Should you discover CV fraud after a staff member has come on board, you may need help with your next steps. Feel free to reach out to our employment lawyers, on 1800 730 617 or at team@sprintlaw.com.au for an obligation free chat!

About Sprintlaw

Sprintlaw is a new type of law firm that operates completely online and on a fixed-fee basis. We’re on a mission to make quality legal services faster, simpler and more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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