Part of the recruitment process is for an employer to make an offer to a successful candidate. It can be a long, slow process to find the right person for the job. Sadly, things can go wrong very quickly.

If an applicant lies during the recruitment process – by saying something that isn’t true or deceives you by omitting something material, you may come to the conclusion they are unsuitable for the job.

How to deal with a lying applicant will depend on the stage of the recruitment process… and on the extent of the deception.

When making an offer of employment, always make it conditional upon say, satisfactory references being received or upon proof of qualifications.

Before the job offer is accepted

An offer can be withdrawn at any time before the candidate accepts it. Simply withdrawing the offer will be the easiest way of dealing with a lying applicant.

It is important to state in the withdrawal letter that the candidate has not accepted  the offer and to clearly set out the reasons why you have changed your mind. This will help provide evidence to counter any allegations of claims that might follow –  for example, a discriminatory reason for the withdrawal of the offer.

After the job offer is accepted

Once an offer of employment has been accepted, and any conditions of the offer have been met, a binding contract will be formed.

Unless the contract allows for summary dismissal, contractual notice will normally have to be given should you wish to change your mind. Failure to do so may be a breach of contract, for which the employee can sue either in an Employment Tribunal or in the county court.

Summary termination of the contract without notice may be justified where the dishonesty is significant enough to amount to a repudiatory breach on the part of the employee. This is often referred to as gross misconduct and gives an employer grounds to treat the conduct as a breach of trust and confidence which brings the employment relationship to an end.

Offers of employment should be qualified to make it clear that dishonesty in the application process could lead to the offer being revoked. It should be stated that the offer may be withdrawn at any stage after acceptance, and employment, if started, may be terminated with immediate effect.

Once the applicant has started employment

Once employment has started, the usual rules around unfair and wrongful dismissal will apply. Though the employee is unlikely to have two years’ service before you discover the dishonesty, automatic unfair dismissal (e.g. for reasons connected with pregnancy or whistleblowing), which does not require a minimum period of service, may still be argued by the employee.

Depending on the level of dishonesty, the employer may be able to dismiss with or without notice. The dismissal should normally be treated as a conduct dismissal.

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