The tangled web of CV fraud

SIOBHAN LEATHLEY
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014
Barrister Catherine Stewart
Supplied.
Barrister Catherine Stewart.

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The recent spate of CV fraud cases in the media has highlighted the need for employers to ruthlessly vet candidates before hiring. 

However, what constitutes fraud is not as clear cut as it may seem.

Barrister Catherine Stewart, who specialises in employment law, said fraud cases were not always always straightforward, as there were a number of subjective issues around what constituted a lie.

"The true test is whether an employee did lie, and if they did how their employer responded to it."

In a recent case before the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) an employee was dismissed as their employer found out their diploma from an overseas tertiary institution, was inferior to its New Zealand equivalent.  

The employer only realised this after hiring the employee, who had mentioned where she received her diploma from during the interview.

The ERA decided the employer could not do this, as they had failed to carry out the necessary checks during the recruitment process.

"An employer has an onus to carry out proper checks and balances before offering employment."

Therefore owners need to have a robust recruitment process, she said, which included careful pre-employment checks.

She said the Employment Agreement should include a well drafted clause stating that if an employee was found to misrepresent themselves, and this misrepresentation had a material impact on the offer of employment, then that employee can be dismissed.

She said the Employment Relations Act stated both the employee and employer had a duty of good faith which extended to pre-employment negotiations.

Employrite provides pre-employment screening and staff background checks.

Owner David Birchall said people would lie about anything on their CV from their name, to their credit history, work history, qualifications, and even their address.

"Most of the time, a CV is more of an interesting story than a factual document."

He said it would cost around $200-$250 to hire a specialist to perform checks. Checks varied according to the applicant's sought role and position.

For example: "If they're using a company car then we'll check their licence history."

He recommended owners checked referees, criminal history and convictions, ACC details, qualifications and employment history.

"Don't trust people at first site, check everything."

Urban Matters Series is a seminar series on urban development. Its founder Karen Remetis said she had learned not to take references and referees' comments at face value, after recruiting "dodos" with great references.

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"I've had one or two people over a long period of time that were supposed to be PAs to significant people, but I found were poor performers."

She said more emphasis was needed on drilling down references and the candidate's actual experience, during the recruitment process.

"If you're hiring someone then you're accountable for that hire."

- Fairfax Media

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