Last month's jailing of unqualified gynaecologist Dr Henry Akpata and the forced resignation of NHS Trust chief executive Neil Taylor in December for awarding himself a non-existent degree, were the latest in a string of revelations concerning employees claiming to be something they are not.
Neither case is as chilling as that of double child murderer Ian Huntley, who was given his job as school caretaker despite police awareness of prior convictions, but they nevertheless underline the importance of employers carrying out detailed pre-employment checks on candidates.
Widely-publicised employee security breaches, the events of September 11 and concerns over illegal working have added to the pressure on employers to put in place adequate screening procedures.
Some 34 per cent of job applications contain outright lies about experience, education and abilities and 2 per cent of CVs are almost totally fictitious, according to employee background checkers RWC.
Public sector screening
Companies are increasingly raking through potential employees' backgrounds, both nationally and internationally, with employers such as those in the public, financial, IT, pharmaceutical, media and oil and gas sectors particularly likely to screen.
"The public sector is particularly sensitive and conscious of criticism about unsavoury details which should have come to light following the Harold Shipman and Huntley scandals. Banks are also very keen to demonstrate they are beyond reproach," says Chris Garatt, associate at law firm Allen & Overy.
Debbie Williamson, managing consultant at background screening firm Hill & Associates, which recently joined forces with RWC under the global brand BackgroundChecking.com, says global screening is very much on the rise. "Global screening is becoming a big thing, although it is extremely difficult to put into place a global screening policy. Companies are screening more thoroughly, in part as a knee-jerk reaction to September 11."
But pre-employment screening is a legal minefield unless employers are clear what they can and cannot do. Data protection legislation is increasingly commonplace globally, with the rest of the world catching up with the US and UK in controlling the gathering, processing and storing of data on individuals. Uruguay ha