Ask The HR Expert: What to do when an employee lies about their qualifications

Peninsula Team

January 27 2012

“Can I dismiss someone because they lied about the qualifications on their CV? They stated they had attained 10 GCSE's at A and B grade, it turns out they lied about their grades and even failed in one subject. The employee is on probation and has been with me 7 weeks.” Based on the circumstances in the event an employee is dishonest about the qualifications on their CV this will amount to a breach of trust. Within all contracts of employment there is an implied duty of trust and confidence, if an employee is dishonest this can breach a fundamental term within the contract of employment. I would suggest that being dishonest and demonstrating the behaviour outlined within the question above is enough to warrant a dismissal of an employee within their probationary period, subject to the issue outlined below. A probationary review is commonly used where an employer is seeking to terminate the employee’s employment as unsuitable where there are concerns with the employee’s conduct or performance. However, it should be noted that probation reviews can also occur outside of the circumstance where dismissal is considered and can generally be used as a means to highlight any concerns you have with the employee’s employment and it could be that rather than dismissing the employee, the probation period can be extended in order to afford the employee the opportunity to improve in any areas for concern. It is important to note that probationary reviews can only be used if it is expressly stated that a new starter’s continued employment with the company is subject to satisfactory completion of a probation period. If a new starter was not taken on with a probationary period then it may be more appropriate to consider formal disciplinary action against an employee. Probation review dismissals operate on the basis that staff members who have less than 1 year’s continuous service (subject to a few exceptions covered later in this response) do not have the right to claim unfair dismissal and so where the employee’s underperformance, high levels of absence or misconduct ordinarily warrants a level of warning under the disciplinary process, the employee can be dismissed for this and would not be able to complain of unfair dismissal at Employment Tribunal due to them not having the necessary qualifying rights to bring such a claim at tribunal. When dismissing an employee, even when in the probation period, I recommend that it is best practice to follow a basic procedure in order to effect the dismissal. In essence, this process entails 3 stages: Stage 1 – Written statement of grounds for action and invitation to a formal meeting (Advice Line will provide you with this) Stage 2 – Convene a formal meeting to discuss the areas of concern with the employee and to listen to any explanation the individual wishes to put forward. Stage 3 – Afford the employee the opportunity to appeal the decision made following the probation review meeting. Probation review dismissals work on the basis that staff members in question do not have a year’s service, and so therefore cannot ordinarily claim unfair dismissal. As such, dismissals can occur much easier than would otherwise safely occur for someone who has in excess of a year’s service who can make a complaint of unfair dismissal. However, whilst staff members who are under a year’s service do not usually have any rights to claim unfair dismissal, they do have an ability to complain of unfair dismissal in some very limited circumstances and have an ability to bring a certain limited number of other claims from day one of employment. For any further information, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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