Employers are failing to verify candidate’s CV claims

An investigation conducted by the BBC Radio 4’s File on Four programme disclosed that thousands of people from the UK had purchased fake degree certificates from a “diploma mill” in Pakistan, which promotes courses from a number of universities that do not exist.

Findings showed that around 3,000 fake qualifications – including Phds and master degrees – were purchased by UK based buyers, some of which were employed by the NHS, although there is no suggestion to say they are fundamentally unqualified.

This discovery has opened up a variety of questions about whether recruitment departments and HR have been carrying out efficient checks on accuracy of details provided in candidate’s CVs, this ranges from qualifications and experience to performance in previous roles.

Jane Rowley, Chief Executive of Higher Education Degree Data check (HEDD) said: “It’s a vicious circle of fraud – employers don’t make checks, so people embellish things on their CVs, they get away with it and the more they get away with it, the more they are inclined to embellish.”

She suggests further that the fake degree industry was surviving because employers were failing to undertake due diligence. Employers can use the HEDD website to verify whether a certificate is authentic.

Research conducted by the Risk Advisory Group identified that 38% of CVs studied from 25-32-year olds had been falsified.

Rowley estimated that only a fifth of employers carry out proper checks on applicant’s qualifications. She cautioned that using a fake degree certificate to apply for a job may be viewed as fraud by misrepresentation and could potentially carry a 10-year prison sentence.

It was reported that Axact sold more than 215,000 false qualifications worldwide from roughly 350 fictions universities and high schools to buyers in 2015.

Shoab Ahmed, Chief Executive of Axact was arrested in 2015 and released on bail after 15 months in custody, Umain Humaid was given 21 months in prison in August 2017.

The Department for Education said it was “taking decisive action to crack down on degree fraud that cheats genuine learners.”

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help?

If you require employment law advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or any other employment issue give us a call today on 0370 218 5662.  You can also find out more about our fixed fee HR packages here and fixed fee employment law packages here, or get in touch.

Poundland boss was ‘unfairly dismissed’ for handing out freebies

The Employment Tribunal has ruled that a manager of Poundland was unfairly dismissed for handing out free items to customers.

It was heard in Watford Employment Tribunal that Mr Zia was fired after misusing a button on the till that allowed employees to give out free items in the event of a complaint or damaged goods. His employers argued that the employee had used this tool excessively throughout his employment at the branch and was in breach of its policies.

Between the 1st January and 13th May 2016, the Employment Tribunal heard that Mr Zia had handed out £312.65 worth of free items. As a result of this, Poundland’s area manager intervened and opened an investigation on Mr Zia.

Poundland argued that this button was not available during the period that Mr Zia had handed out free items, however, Zia and his colleagues responded claiming that they were unaware of this.

The area manager who conducted the investigations failed to do a written report, instead, escalated the matter to a disciplinary hearing. During this hearing, Zia disputed that he had given out free items as ‘gestures of good will.’ However, the investigatory officer concluded that the “only reasonable outcome of this process was to be a summary dismissal.” Mr Zia then lodged an appeal on the grounds that he had been trained to use the free item button.

On accepting Zia’s claim that the dismissal was procedurally unfair and did not meet the band of reasonable responses test, especially because the employee had a clean record, Judge Manley held that Poundland’s investigation failed for a number of reasons.

“Poundland has no one to blame but itself for very poor methods of communication. Poundland needed to be clear about what the misconduct was. The evidence on how or when the free item button was stopped is opaque and inconsistent.” Said Judge Manley.

The Remedy Hearing of this case is due to take place on 16th March 2018.

What is unfair dismissal?

To put it simply, unfair dismissal occurs when an employer terminates his employees contract of employment without having a fair reason to do so. Unfair dismissal can also be claimed in the event that there was a fair reason for dismissal, but the dismissal was handled using wrong procedure. Employees will be protected under legislation against both of these eventualities.

When is a dismissal fair?

The dismissal will be viewed as fair if the employer can provide evidence that the employee was dismissed for one of the following reasons:

  • The reason related to the employees conduct
  • The reason related to the employee’s capability or qualifications for the job
  • Because of redundancy
  • Because of a statutory duty or restriction prohibited the employment being continued
  • Some other substantial reason of a kind which justifies dismissal

When is a dismissal unfair?

A dismissal will be viewed as automatically unfair if the dismissal is connected with an employee exercising the following rights:

  • Pregnancy; this includes all reasons relating to paternity
  • Family reasons; including parental leave, paternity leave (birth & adoption) adoption leave or time off for dependants
  • Representation; including acting as an employee’s representative
  • Trade Union membership grounds and union recognition
  • Part time and fixed term employees
  • Pay and working hours

The case of Poundland highlights the importance of employers following procedure when disciplining an employee. Should an employee put themselves at risk of dismissal, this should be communicated through policies, investigations and disciplinary procedures.

It is important that employers have a consistent method of treating all employees fairly and in the same way. Policies and procedures may provide room for some discretion, but there should be careful consideration made when deciding not to follow a policy, and of the possible outcomes of this decision.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help?

If you require employment law advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or any other employment issue give us a call today on 0370 218 5662.  You can also find out more about our fixed fee HR packages here and fixed fee employment law packages here, or get in touch.

Is your workplace disability friendly?

As an employer, it is your duty to ensure employees feel comfortable at their place of work.  Scope, a charity for individuals with a disability, reports that there are 13.3 million disabled people in the UK, at least 18% of those are adults of a working age. It was further reported that 3.4 million disabled people are currently employed.

It is suggested that this is not down to choice, or the nature of their disability; for some, it is the obstacles they face within a working environment that restricts them from getting a job.

Therefore, it is crucial that an organisations culture is inclusive of every single person, even those who suffer from a disability. However, this becomes problematic when an employer does not know how to achieve this.

What does the law say?

Under current employment and health & safety legislation, employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace for disabled employees. The purpose of this is to ensure those with a disability have equal access to workplace opportunities. An adjustment may be permanent or temporary, depending on the nature of the disability.


You may have the facilities within the building for a disabled individual to carry out their job, however, without easy access in and around the building, this person is likely to face problems before reaching their place of work.

In the first instance, employers should consider offering disabled parking located closely to the building. In addition, employers should insert ramps at the entrance of the building, this gives wheelchair users access in and out of the premises without any difficulties.

When stairs are not an option for an individual, elevators and ramps will be required if the company operates across multiple floors. All elevators should have braille signs for those who are visually impaired.


Papworth Trust reported that 53% of working age adults with some impairment experienced obstacles to work, in comparison to 30% of adults without.

In this day and age, most job roles require some form of technology engagement, assistive technologies can help break down those barriers that disabled employees encounter every day. Assistive technologies include braille keyboards, screen readers and listening devices.


Small adjustments like placing braille signs in areas can dramatically change the working experience for those with a visual impairment.

In addition, providing employees with an alternative desk or chair can make a massive difference in helping an employee reach their potential.

In any event, employers should:

  • Manage work risks for all employees
  • Never make assumptions
  • Take disabled employees into consideration when conducting risk assessments and any reasonable adjustments required
  • Consult with specialists where necessary

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help?

If you require employment law advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or any other employment issue give us a call today on 0370 218 5662.  You can also find out more about our fixed fee HR packages here and fixed fee employment law packages here, or get in touch.

Help your workforce beat January blues

The festive excitement that makes people happy in December comes to a crash in January when everyone has to return to work.

Christmas is now just a distant memory, January can therefore be perceived as the most depressing month of the year. According to the Metro, the third Monday in January is ‘Blue Monday’ – scientifically the worst day of the year.

It is important that employers recognise the risks associated with not managing employee’s health and well-being effectively.

To make a positive and productive start to the year, here is how to help employees tackle those January blues.

(1)    Discourage Presenteeism

Presenteeism, is more formally known as when an employee comes into work even when they are unwell.

As an employer, you expect your team to work productively and meet targets, but when an individual is unwell, it will become difficult for them to focus on what is expected of them. In some cases, they are more likely to work slower and make mistakes.

In addition, the illness may spread, having one team member down may be difficult but having a full office unwell could be disastrous.

Therefore, employers should not apply absence policies so vigorously that staff force themselves into work before recovering properly. Showing your employees that you care about their health will build on employee morale and a more productive working environment.

(2)    Recognition

Employers should never underestimate the power of recognition. One of the main factors of motivation amongst a workforce is the feeling of being recognised and appreciated. January is an ideal time to say thank you for all their hard work over the past year.

Simple gestures such as, a company-wide email or a special mention in a meeting will go a long way. Employers will be surprised at how much drive is generated from this.

(3)    Incentivise employees

Just like recognition, rewards are just as important. At Employment Law Services (ELS), we promote recognition to help motivate your staff. However, if some form of reward does not follow after time, your employees will lose their devotion and come to the conclusion that there will be no pay off for their efforts.

Rewards can take form through a variety of shapes and sizes. Tangible rewards are material rewards given by a company to its staff in return for providing a good service. For example, cash bonus, fringe benefits, pay rise, gym membership etc.

However, it is suggested that intangible rewards are just as effective and cost the company far less. For example, taking an employee out for lunch to thank them for their hard work or providing them with additional annual leave can see a huge impact on the company.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help?

The New Year provides employers with an opportunity to start fresh and achieve success. To do this you require a fully focused team. We would love to play a part of your future success, contact us today for your free consultation. 0800 612 4772

Important case law developments – January 2018

(1)    Discrimination based on a perceived disability found as unlawful

In the case of Chief Constable of Norfolk v Coffey, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the decision made in the Employment Tribunal that a police officer did suffer direct discrimination because of a perceived disability.

This came after Lisa Coffey’s employer refused her a transfer as there were concerns that she would end up on restricted duties, this was due to her hearing loss being slightly below the medical standard for police recruitment.

In this judgement the EAT held that Norfolk Constabulary was wrong to have denied an application for a transfer from Lisa Coffey because of her hearing impairment.

The employer’s decision in this case suggested that he perceived his employee to be suffering from a progressive condition, which could advance and as a result, have a substantial impact on her ability to conduct day-day activities. Under the Equality Act 2010, this amounts to the statutory definition of ‘disability.’

Employers should note from the decision in this case that disability discrimination works in the same way as any other form of discrimination.

The EAT stated that: “There would be a gap in the protection offered by equality law if an employer, wrongly perceiving that an employee’s impairment might well progress to the point where it affected [his or her] work substantially, could dismiss [him or her] in advance to avoid any duty to make allowances or adjustments.”

(2)    Employer found vicariously liable for an employee’s disclosure of personal data

The High Court held in the case of Various Claimants v Wm Morrisons Supermarket Plc, that the employer was vicariously liable for a rogue employee who deliberately released personal data of other colleagues.

Where there is an adequate connection between the employment relationship and wrongdoing, employers will be held liable for acts committed by the employee under the doctrine of vicarious liability.

This case decision submits that where an employer has done as much as reasonably possible to prevent the misuse of data, they may still be held responsible for the employee who misuses it, even in the event that the misuse has been predetermined to damage the employer.

Since this ruling, Morrisons have announced that they will be appealing the decision and have been given leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

(3)    Pre- termination negotiations

In the case of Basra v BJSS Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal established that the Employment Tribunal had been wrong to rule out evidence of pre-termination negotiations governed under s11a of the Employment Rights Act 1996 when concluding the effective date of termination of an unfair dismissal complaint. Where negotiations occur prior to the termination of employment, statutory exclusions will apply and therefore, cannot be invoked until the final termination date has been confirmed.

The decision in this case emphasizes the importance of ensuring the wording in any form of communication with employees is carried out carefully, whether on an open or without prejudice basis.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help?

If you require employment law advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or any other employment issue give us a call today on 0370 218 5662.  You can also find out more about our fixed fee HR packages here and fixed fee employment law packages here, or get in touch.

Please note, the information in this article is for guidance purposes only and it is therefore advised that employers seek legal advice before embarking on any enforcement action.