While it’s not uncommon to “embellish” your CV slightly – which in some cases is actively encouraged – there can be serious consequences for misrepresenting yourself, according to Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s Gavin Stansfield and Zola Mcaciso.

A 2017 report by background screening company, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), showed that the six most lied about facts on CVs include: responsibilities, skills, titles, a period of employment, companies worked at, and reasons for leaving a previous job.

According to the South African Qualifications Authority, the issue of misrepresentation on CVs has become so bad that it is considering publicly naming and shaming fraudsters on a national list to help combat the epidemic.

Despite these problems, however, it still may not be immediately clear what the consequences would be if you are caught lying on your CV in South Africa.

The issue was dealt with in a recent case in which an employee, who was employed in the position of financial manager in 2009, was charged in 2013 by his employer for having misrepresented his qualification in his CV at the time of his appointment.

The employee was dismissed for gross dishonesty following a disciplinary inquiry. Unhappy with the dismissal, he referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the CCMA.

At the time of his appointment, the employee was 82 year’s old – which was way past the company’s retirement age of 65.

Prior to being offered the position of finance manager, the employee was offered a 5-month fixed-term contract as assistant company secretary – an offer he refused.

The employee was then re-offered the position of company secretary on a permanent basis, which he again refused.

It was in the process of considering these offers that the company came across the employee’s CV. Certain qualifications that were listed in his CV were missing from his file; these were a BCom Charted Accountant (SA) qualification and an MBA from Wits.

It transpired that the company’s HR department had requested the outstanding qualifications from the employee but they were never provided by him.

The consequences

The Labour Court found that the employee’s formal qualifications were a material consideration for his appointment to the position, as he had received a significantly high scorecard on formal qualification, resulting in him being the preferred candidate.

It was further pointed out that even if the qualifications were not a requirement for the position, it does not detract from the employee’s dishonesty in misrepresenting that he was a qualified Chartered Accountant.

Like previous cases, it found that lying on your CV constitutes gross dishonesty which warrants dismissal and means continued employment would be intolerable.

This article originally appeared on BusinessTech.co.za