You can now spend up to 5 years in jail for lying on your CV

The new National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act aims to prevent South African individuals from misrepresenting their qualifications.

The news laws, recently signed by president Cyril Ramaphosa now allow for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to establish and maintain separate registers for professional designations, misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications.

In addition to these new registers – which will effectively ‘name and shame’ individuals who had been found to be holding fraudulent qualifications – the act also introduces harsh consequences for those who are caught lying about their achievements.

“Section 32B(3) of the act makes it an offence for someone to falsely or fraudulently claim that they possess a qualification or part-qualification that is registered with the National Qualifications Framework or any accredited or recognised body,” says Qaqamba Moeletsi, a legal consultant at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.

“Accordingly, CV fraudsters may be convicted for contravening the NQF Amendment Act. In these circumstances, they could receive a fine or face imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both,” Moeletsi said.

Moeletsi added that a number of personal details are tracked by the SAQA including a person’s qualifications, learner achievements, professional designations, and any related information.

Most common lies 

According to data released by LexisNexis in May, South Africans often make similar embellishments when putting together their CVs.

LexisNexis Data Solutions’ GM, Rudi Kruge said that of all CV embellishments uncovered by RefCheck – LexisNexis’ reference checking service – it is qualification fraud that features most prominently.

Qualification fraud is the most prevalent type of misrepresentation on CVs, Kruger said, highlighting the following forms:

  • Non-existent matric certificates;
  • Inflated education;
  • Unfinished degrees;
  • Fake degree certificates.

This aligns with a 2018 report by background screening company Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE) which found that more South Africans are lying on their CVs.

Results showed that a candidate’s qualifications are the most likely aspect to contain discrepancies when compared to other background screening checks.

MIE’s data shows that the number of qualifications found to be fraudulent has decreased to 1,678 in 2017, from 2,049 in 2016; however, the number of misrepresented qualifications has increased from 44,880 in 2016, to 50,618 in 2017.

Aspects of a CV most frequently found to be misrepresented or incorrect:

  • Skills;
  • Job titles;
  • Responsibilities;
  • Period of employment;
  • Reason for leaving;
  • Employment history.

Read: South Africa is turning away wealthy investors

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You can now spend up to 5 years in jail for lying on your CV