Employment-related discrepancies like fake degrees and fudged job records rose to a four-year high in India in the second quarter of 2015, raising questions about whether a revival in the economy and more opportunities at the entry level had heightened such activities among jobseekers.
According to a report by First Advantage, a global background screening company, in the April-June quarter, discrepancies stood at 12.3%—the highest in 18 previous quarters since January 2011.
This means, of every 100 background screenings done on jobseekers, at least 12.3% have provided some kind of incorrect information. The average discrepancy rate in 2011, 2012 and 2013 was in the range of 10%, while it rose to 10.5% in 2014.
Of the total number of discrepancy cases, some 42% were those of associate-level employees or those in the 22-30 age bracket. But in terms of age groups, the discrepancy rate in the 51-years-and-above bracket was the highest at 21.2%.
The survey titled Background Screening Trends in India took into account 500,000 samples for the study from various sectors. Of all the discrepancies, 79% were of male employees and jobseekers and 21% were of female staffers and jobseekers in the June quarter, the same as the March quarter.
Among sectors, the discrepancy rate in the second quarter of 2015 was the highest in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector (41%), followed by information technology, or IT (25%) and telecommunications (12%).
In a competitive market, to get an edge over other candidates, people often furnish forged documents and certificates, said Shreya Krishnan, head (marketing) at First Advantage.
According to Krishnan, the discrepancy rate is high in the BFSI sector, IT and telecom industries due to factors like stability of industry and more employment opportunities. Besides, these are the sectors that have started taking background screening more seriously.
The report said employment record, address and educational qualifications were the areas where maximum malpractices were detected.
For example, in the consumer goods sector, 19.3% of incorrect information was related to job records in the second quarter of 2015, as against 18.9% in the previous quarter. Similarly in retail, some 23.3% jobseekers fudged employment records in the second quarter, as against 19% in the quarter. In engineering, around 8% jobseekers had fudged education qualifications in the April-June quarter against no such case in the previous quarter.
Overall, out of 100 discrepancies, 49.3% were employment related, 16.2% address related and 3.9% education related. The rest 30.6% were from various parameters like criminal record, reference checks, etc.
The discrepancy trend across zones shows that employment- and address-related discrepancies were highest in south India and education discrepancies were highest in north India.
Among states, Karnataka reported the highest discrepancy rate (22%), followed by Maharashtra (20%), said the report.
And, among cities, Bengaluru reported the most job-related problems (18%) during background screening, followed by Mumbai (13%). Sikkim’s Namchi (12%) topped the education discrepancy table, followed by Mumbai (9%) and New Delhi (7%). In education-related discrepancies, fake documents constituted 47% of cases.