Employees Must Not Misrepresent Skills on Engagement

Jaques v The McCarroll Motor Group T/A McCarroll [2014] FWC 5793 (22 August 2014)

Employees have a duty to their prospective employer in job interviews to tell the truth about their qualifications and abilities, as a “mechanic” found out to his detriment in a recent unfair dismissal case.

The employee had claimed at his job interview that he was working towards his formal trade qualification and had only six training modules to go. He was hired on the basis that although the job demanded a properly qualified person, he was very close to full qualification and he had undertaken to pursue his training.

After six months the employee asked for pay rise and his employer queried his training progress. But there was no progress to report. On further enquiry, the employee now stated there were nine modules to go. The employer made further enquiries and the official count of modules rose to 14. At this point the employer lost trust in the employee and sacked him.

The Fair Work Commission had little sympathy for the sacked employee and used strong language in describing the poor behaviour of the employee. FWC found that the discovery of the true state of affairs “clearly and understandably demolished the trust and confidence necessary to maintain the employment relationship”.

Added to that was the incapacity of the employee to perform the job due to the lack of appropriate skills through qualification. Importantly, FWC effectively ‘overlooked’ some of the procedural deficiencies in the way the employer went about the dismissal, making the point that the breach of trust far outweighed those irregularities.

The value of this decision is it reinforces a developing trend in Australian employment law for tribunals and courts to highlight the consequences to employees of breaching trust and confidence between employer and employee.