October 2019, was Justice month as Ramaphosa signs in various new laws, one of them being CV Fraud. Do you embellish your curriculum vitae to increase your chances of procuring a new job? A fake matric certificate, inflated education, fake degree certificates and unfinished degrees are some of the common embellishments that are found on a CV.
Ramaphosa signed in the new National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”), which aims to prevent South Africans from mispresenting their qualifications in their curriculum vitae. Misrepresentation of your qualifications persuades the employer to offer you employment under false pretence, as you would probably meet their requirements. Mispresenting yourself on your CV can also be career-limiting, as we live in the digital age, where information is at our fingertips and it will not be long before it is discovered that the qualification or skill is fraudulent.
This Act permits the South African Qualifications Authority to establish and maintain separate registers for professional designations, misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications. This register will name those who misrepresent themselves and/or fraudulently list false qualifications on their CV. It will also be considered an offence if falsified information is entered into the register, hence if your name is on the register, it will be taken seriously. But the Act goes further, bragging on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. that you have a qualification which if found to be false, is now considered a serious offence as well.
The amendments to the Act introduces punitive penalties for those found to be lying in their CV. The penalty for CV Fraud is a fine or up to five years imprisonment.
But the Act has also placed an administrative as well as a monetary burden on employers and educational institutions, skills development providers and quality councils, who before appointing and or registering any person, must verify whether any qualification of such person is registered on the national learners’ record database. Should it be found that the qualification is not registered, it must be referred to the South African Qualifications Authority for verification, who will conduct the verification at a prescribed fee.
The Act makes provision for there to be consequences for education institutions and education skills providers who falsely claim to be registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
Good faith can also get you out of “hot water”. If you did a qualification in good faith believing it was a legitimate qualification, this can be used as a defence if charged with contravening the Act and you may be acquitted and the relevant institution will be charged and may be liable to a fine and criminal conviction.
Do you have an onus to report if you are aware of someone who misrepresented themselves on their CV and does not report them? No, you do not. You will not face legal charges if discovered that you were aware but did not report it.
Examples of top executives that have lied on their CV is Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) suspended its chief engineer, who subsequently resigned amid allegations that he falsified his qualifications. Daniel Mtimkulu headed the engineering team that designed new Afro 4000 locomotives delivered to South Africa in January, at a cost of R600 million. He reportedly claimed to have an engineering degree from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), before studying in Germany to get his doctorate. Wits, however, said it did not have any record of Mtimkulu attending the university.
Some other examples to note, include Pallo Jordan, a former South African cabinet minister, who claimed to have a doctorate from the London School of Economics, when he did not; Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC COO, claimed to have a matric certificate, which was untrue; and Ellen Tshabalala, former SABC chairperson, who claimed to have postgraduate degrees from UNISA, which remains elusive.
In 2015, a screening company noted that there was a record high of CV Fraud and this could be due to the unemployment rate in South Africa, but one has to ask, is it worth it being unemployed permanently due to fraudulent misrepresentation or achieving a degree and being employed permanently?
Employers be sure to check your potential job applicants and ensure you’re employing the best and legal employees!
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)