What are the Risks of Lying on Your Job Application or CV?

Lying on your job application or CV (or resume) is a common practice but can have serious consequences for the perpetrator. If there is fraudulent information on your application or CV, you could even end up in prison and face a financial claim by the employer.

Why do people provide false information on job applications and CVs?

The UK is facing a competitive job market, and the temptation to lie or exaggerate on your application is understandable. Some job applicants can be so desperate for a position that they are prepared to lie to secure an interview and, hopefully, the job. However, the temptation should be avoided.

Lies and exaggeration often relate to professional and academic qualifications, places of education, previous experience and skills. It is important for employers that there are robust measures available if it becomes clear a worker has lied, otherwise the risks for businesses are high.

Can my employer dismiss me because of false information I put on my job application?

An employer has the right to fire an employee for lying on a job application or CV in certain circumstances. If the lies are so serious as to breach the implied duty of trust and confidence between the you and your employer, you can be dismissed. If the lies amount to gross misconduct you can be dismissed without notice.

However, each case will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. In addition, in any case involving potential dismissal, the employer must consider whether dismissal is within the range of reasonable responses. If you are dismissed and you think you were unfairly dismissed, you could make a claim for unfair dismissal.

The employer would have to prove that the false information you provided was a contributing factor in the employee being offered the job. It will also have to show that dismissal was a reasonable response – again, this depends on all the circumstances of the case.

Could I be prosecuted for fraud?

Lying on your CV or job application and your intention was to secure employment is a criminal offence under the Fraud Act 2006. On conviction, you could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine. The prosecution will have to have a very strong case that you lied or knowingly gave false or grossly exaggerated information, and that your intention was to get the job.

What other legal issues should I be aware of if I have lied on my job application or CV?

An employer may be able to dismiss an employee for lying or giving false information on a job application or a CV, and they may be able to act in a way which is otherwise unlawful without repercussions.

For example, if an employer dismisses an employee unfairly on grounds of religion or face, this is usually unlawful and the employee will have grounds for an unfair dismissal claim. However, the worker may lose that right if the position was secured on the basis of false information provided on their job application or CV. If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed based on a protected characteristic and not because of any lies or exaggerations on your job application, you will have to show this.

What should I do if I have been dismissed unfairly, but I did provide false information on my job application?

If you have been dismissed, and you think this was unfair in the circumstances – even though you lied on your job application or CV – you should seek specialist legal advice. Your conduct in relation to your job application may not necessarily give the employer an automatic right to dismiss you. The circumstances need to be considered in the round, so that you know whether or not you have a potential claim for unfair dismissal.

If I have lied on my job application can I be sued for damages?

If you lie or give false information on a job application or CV as a result of which you secured employment, you may face a compensation claim by the employer. To succeed, the employer will have to demonstrate that it suffered financial loss as a direct result.

For instance, it is common for employers to use recruitment consultants to carry out the groundwork of finding suitable potential employees. If an individual is then offered a position, the employee will pay a fee to the recruitment consultant. This can be thousands of pounds – as much as 30% of the employee’s annual salary. If the individual secured employment as a result of lies on their job application, and they are dismissed when this is discovered, they can be liable for the recruitment costs paid out by the employer. In such claims, whether or not the individual would have the means to pay is a different matter.

Article written by...
Lucy Trevelyan LLB
Lucy Trevelyan LLB

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Lucy graduated in law from the University of Greenwich, and is also an NCTJ trained journalist. A legal writer and editor with over 20 years' experience writing about the law.