Can you dismiss an employee if they lied on their CV?

It is common for individuals to exaggerate or embellish certain aspects of their CV when applying for a role, however employers can be faced with a serious problem if it turns out the person they hired does not have the experience or qualifications needed to carry out the job at hand.

So what can you do if after you’ve hired an employee, you subsequently find out they lied on their CV?

Generally speaking, if you find out that an individual has attempted to lie on their CV then you may dismiss them, providing this lie is significant enough to break the implied duty of trust and confidence between employer and employee.

How serious is the lie?

It is important to understand the difference between a serious infringement, such as fabricating a degree or previous workplace, and a white lie, especially if the individual already has 2 years’ service.

Naturally there are some industries where the lie may have a more significant impact than others. Industries such as health care, engineering and construction often require academic degrees and supplementary qualifications as a pre-requisite for advanced roles.

The danger of an individual in this situation lying about a qualification on their CV is that it could conceivably place the health and safety of colleagues, customers and the general public at risk. In cases such as this it should be relatively straight forward to justify dismissal.

You may feel, for good reason, that an individual who has told a significant lie on their CV can no longer be trusted in your organisation and if this is the case it would be appropriate to dismiss them.

There is also the risk that a dishonest employee could bring the reputation of the business into disrepute, but again this will be dependent on the nature of the lie and the role the individual is required to carry out.

When was the lie discovered?

The sooner you discover someone has lied on their CV the better, as dismissing an individual with short service will be less likely to result in claims of unfair dismissal.

Alternatively, if the employee has been employed for two years it may be more difficult for a dismissal to be considered fair, particularly if they are competent at their job and the lie on their CV doesn’t affect their capability to fulfil their job duties.

To avoid the risk of contentious dismissals, employers are encouraged to check qualifications before offering a job, or as a criterion included in a conditional job offer, by requesting copies of certificates or other evidence of qualifications.

Although dismissing individuals for lying on their CV is achievable you should always be able to explain why you believe dismissal to be an appropriate response.

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Peter Done, Managing Director of Peninsula Business Services – the UK’s leading specialist Employment Law, HR and Health & Safety service.

Last updated: 20th February, 2021

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