VeriSHEQ set to counter CV Fraud in the SHEQ Industry

With the pending CV fraud requirements in the NQF Amendment Act, VeriSHEQ is the first to focus on prevention and control with the introduction of its services to  be launched in November 2019.

With the proliferation of SHEQ qualifications offered, knowing which is which and who is what has become a nearly impossible task. VeriSHEQ plans to offer a verification and vetting service to clients wanting to employ or contract SHEQ practitioners.

This service would include:

  • Verifying a qualification offered by a practitioner
  • Verifying company compliance if the practitioner is operating as such
  • Verifying judgments against professional codes of conduct if the practitioner is registered as a professional
  • Rating public complaints on ethical and professional conduct, knowledge and relationship management practices.

VeriSHEQ will act on behalf of clients who intends to source services from SHEQ practitioners, either as employees or independent contractors. This would not be limited to SHEQ consultants and SHEQ officers, but would include regulated industries under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, such as First Aid training providers and Approved Inspection Authorities.

Plans are currently underway to contract with third parties for the provision of certain functions in the verification process and a rating system will be launched in early 2020.

The rating system would be based on the level of verification achieved by a SHEQ service provider or practitioner and will be functioning on a demerit basis.

Sheqafrica was unable to get information on a possible voluntary registration process, but sources indicated that this is not ruled out as part of the plans.

What do you think? Is there a need for such a service? Take our poll on the right and let us know.

How the NQF Amendments would affect you

The new National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act 2019, recently signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, means prospective students or job seekers could face up to five years in jail for misrepresenting their qualifications.

But what exactly does the new law entail? What are the implications for employers? Can you be held accountable if you know someone who has lied about their credentials and you don’t report them? And what constitutes lying, anyway? Fin24 published this article to shed some light on it.

The law doesn’t just apply to job applications – you’ll need to ‘fess up on social media, too.

Under the new law, lying about your qualifications on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter could also lead to jail time.

Qaqamba Moeletsi, legal consultant for Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s employment practice, says this is because under the NQF Amendment Act, it is an offence for any person to falsely or fraudulently claim to hold a qualification that is registered on the NQF or awarded by a recognised and accredited institution. This means even if you’re posting it on your social media account, it’s considered an offence – and if convicted in a court of law, the offender could face a fine and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

The law also impacts employers and education institutions – and they may have to cough up for verifications.

Before appointing and registering any individual, employers, education institutions, skills development providers and Quality Councils must verify whether the qualifications or part qualifications of such person are registered on the national learners’ records database, says Moeletsi.

“If the qualification is not registered, it must be referred to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) for verification. The verification will be conducted by SAQA for a prescribed fee.”

If you are qualified, but it turns out you’re not on the register, you can challenge the finding.

SAQA is required to inform the person making the enquiry and the holder of the qualification or part qualification about its findings, explains Moeletsi.

The holder of the qualification(s) has an opportunity to challenge the findings.

In addition, the verification and evaluation is subject to the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. “As such, the findings may be taken on review before a competent court,” says Moeletsi.

If you are caught lying about your credentials, however, you’ll be recorded in SAQA’s register – and that’s serious.

SAQA will maintain a register of misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications and professional designations, says Moeletsi.

It is also considered an offence to enter false information into the register, so if your name is captured on the register, it will be taken seriously.

Authorities aren’t just cracking the whip, however – the law is also designed to protect you from bogus institutions.

While the law clamps down on individuals who misrepresent their qualifications, there are also severe consequences for education institutions or education skills providers who falsely claim to be registered or accredited, or offer qualifications not registered on the NQF, says Moeletsi. Penalties include a fine or up to five years’ jail time.

There’s a clear line between showing yourself in the best possible light, and deliberate misrepresentation.

While social media profiles, CVs and job applications are an opportunity to focus on what you bring to the table, there is a clear line between emphasising your positive attributes and inventing them, says Moeletsi.

“When a candidate deliberately indicates that they have a qualification when in fact they don’t, this constitutes misrepresentation which is punishable by law. Misrepresentation is usually intended to induce the recipient to appoint the specific person under a false pretext.”

While the law is strict, there are some exceptions where individuals might avoid prosecution.

If you did a qualification in good faith, believing it was legitimate, you can present this information as a defence if you are charged for contravening the NQF Amendment Act, says Moeletsi. If it is accepted, your defence may lead to an acquittal, and the relevant institution might be charged and be liable to a fine and criminal conviction.

Additionally, if you know of someone who has lied about their qualifications, assuming it is not in the circumstances outlined above, you will not face legal consequences if you do not report them, says Moeletsi.


Jessica van Zyl
Jessica is the Editor in Chief of Sheqafrica Corporate Services (Pty)Ltd's Media Office and has 17 years experience in Technical Publishing. She worked for a number of small online magazines until 2018 when she became a Legal Researcher at Le Roux Maritz & Partners. Shortly afterwards, she was seconded to SACS as editor of as part of her portfolio.