Would one of your employees fake cancer?

It emerged in June that a secretary in Hull had managed to con her employers of more than £15,000 by falsely claiming she had cancer. It was an elaborate hoax including the faking of chemotherapy treatment, vomiting at work and shaving her head. Her employers were taken in completely.

From exaggerations on a CV to this extreme case, lying by employees is too common for comfort. Employers can be overly trusting. Here are some checks to avoid being taken in.

1. Ask to see qualification certificates:

  • It complements your candidates who have worked hard for those pieces of paper and weeds out those who do not have them.

2. Check employment history:

  • Watch for embellishment of a career – job titles can be misleading.
  • Employers can be reluctant to give references but almost all employers will confirm a past employee’s dates of employment and the they job(s) held.
  • Check gaps in the employment history.

3. Check for the right to work in the UK:

  • An illegal worker is bound to lie; he or she has to. Check the relevant documents, date and copy them – see  government guidance, to be safe.

4. Check medical certificates:

  • If you suspect forgery contact the GP surgery.
  • Ask the employee for further evidence if they are claiming disability (unless that is apparent from fit to work certificates).
  • Employees with cancer are protected from discrimination from the point of diagnosis.

5. Ask for evidence of a dependent’s illness:

  • If an employee is associated with someone who has cancer they are also protected under the Equality Act from discrimination. So from the fraudsters viewpoint, it may be easier to lie about a relative’s cancer than pretending you have the disease. In 2013 a primary school teacher was given a suspended prison sentence after costing her employer over £100,000. She’d claimed paid time off based on the deception of a younger relative having cancer.

Genuine cancer sufferers deserve all the support they can get (including the right to work without suffering discrimination). But before you pay out thousands, get some evidence.

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