In The Workplace

A new employee has proven to be above average and a hard worker. On his third month of probation, we discovered from a background check that he submitted a fake transcript of records. His boss advised us not to decide on his case until shortly before the probation expires. What do you think? — September Morn.

Even if that person remains a hard worker for six months, what’s the guarantee that he will not commit forgery again at some point? Also, think of the impact on your company’s disciplinary policy.

Forgery is forgery, no matter how you look at it. When a person lies, it chips away at the bond of trust that we confer in the early moments of a relationship. If the breach of trust happens in a work relationship, the effect should be automatic. You can call this the “hot stove” rule.

You know a burning stove is hot. The moment you touch a hot stove, the pain is immediate. It is not felt several months after.

An employee, regardless of personal circumstances, must be fired at the soonest possible time. No ifs, no buts. The only thing you can do to recognize his performance is to weigh it as a mitigating factor. Instead of going through disciplinary procedures allow him to resign, unless there is a risk of exposing the organization to a labor complaint.

More than the issue of trust, it’s important to send a clear message of the importance you attach to trustworthiness in any worker, regardless of position.

While it goes without saying that all employees and their managers are expected to be honest and trustworthy, it’s always good practice to be backed up by written policy and documentary evidence. These include the following:

One, employment contract and related documents. Review the employee’s personnel file to ensure the company is protected against dishonesty and breach of trust. Also, make sure that your application for employment form and employment contract contain provisions that read something like this:

“I hereby warrant that all original, facsimile or certified true copy of documents that I have submitted in connection with my employment application are valid, legitimate, free from any error, or forgery. If any of my submitted documents is found to be a forgery, contains untruthful information or illegal entries, the organization reserves the right to terminate my employment after the observance of due process as required by law.”

Two, disciplinary policy and procedure. This can be found in the company’s Code of Conduct, Code of Employee Discipline or similarly-titled internal document. Review the provision on forgery or falsification of documents. I am sure that such serious offenses are punishable by dismissal at the bare minimum.

Do not consider lesser penalties like suspension. Regardless of the nature of one’s business and the personal circumstance of the offending employee, the penalty of dismissal is appropriate here.

Three, result of background check. It’s not important that the background check came in late. You can use the adverse findings against the employee within a reasonable period of time. The result is more than enough for your management to charge a person with falsification.

You may only need a notarized affidavit of the private investigator who conducted the background check, if and when you decide to file an administrative case against the offender or as additional documentation to prepare for an illegal dismissal case.

Four, data privacy consent form. This allows the organization or its designated representative to check or validate claims by any employee with any private or public establishment. This is imperative as many organizations don’t allow other employers or individuals to check on the background of anyone without formal consent.

These documents are basic requirements. Consult the company’s lawyers for additional documents depending on the nature of your business.

Watch your emotions. This sort of situation may get under the skin of the hiring manager and department head. Don’t take any action until everything has cooled down. The takeaway from all this is to review and understand what you expect from your external background checker, to avoid instances where background checks are submitted late.

Management concerns itself primarily with how a job applicant will perform in a real work situation. What you can’t overlook is integrity. Don’t ignore this aspect of the process. Your credibility is also at stake here.


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