Truth or fiction?

Aug 18 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

As the CEO of an NHS Trust admits that he faked his qualifications in order to get his £115,000-a-year job, research suggests that almost four out of 10 employers have hired people who have lied or misrepresented themselves in their job application.

Neil Taylor, who ran Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, claimed to have a BA in business administration and economics, a postgraduate qualification in forensic medicine and to be a graduate of the (non-existent) Institute of Personnel Management.

When challenged about his qualifications, he produced fake home-made certificates using a logo he had copied from the Internet.

Meanwhile according to research by London-based pre-employment screening firm Powerchex, 39 per cent of UK organisations have experienced a situation where their vetting procedures have allowed an employee to be hired who was later found to have lied or misrepresented themselves in their application.

Of these organisations, 85 per cent had carried out all vetting in-house. In contrast, only four per cent of those who had experienced such a situation outsourced the service to a third party provider.

The Powerchex study also revealed that almost half of organisations surveyed do nothing by way of screening temporary workers.

Of those who leave the task to a temp agency, only 59 per cent have established vetting standards while the remaining 41 per cent are uncertain of the agency's standard of vetting.

"Recent cases show that fraud can come from any level of employee," said Alexandra Kelly, Director of Powerchex

"One only has to remember the case of Joyti De-Laurey from Goldman Sachs, who started out as a temp, to be reminded that all levels of employees should be screened."

Last year, the Financial Services Authority warned that firms need to vet the background and identity of their staff more carefully after revelations that organised crime groups were attempting to place staff in financial firms to commit fraud and steal customers' identities.

Powerchex found that financial services firms were the most likely to use external vetting specialists, with over a quarter doing so, compared to an overall average of 16 per cent.

According to Alexandra Kelly, the findings demonstrate a clear need for companies to reassess the way they approach pre-employment vetting.

"The potential consequences of hiring an unscrupulous candidate are huge, both from a financial and reputation perspective," she said.

"This research shows that today more than ever, companies should take a serious look at how they vet prospective employees."