False allegations at work


As an employer, it’s important to deal with any staff complaints in a professional and timely manner.

After all, failing to respond appropriately may contribute to costly employment tribunal claims. However, what do you do when an individual makes untrue claims about their colleagues?

It’s a potentially damaging experience for your business and workforce—you can call us on 0800 028 2420 for immediate assistance.

You can also read this guide for insights on how to handle this often contentious situation.

What’s a false allegation by an employee?

It’s any claim your member of staff makes of supposed wrongdoing that’s not true.

You may hear this type of assertion called a “groundless accusation” or “unfounded accusation”.

Making false accusations against someone at work can have very serious consequences if an allegation is particularly damaging—such as if an employee accuses their colleague of gross misconduct

So it’s essential your business takes any claims seriously—and you can go about dealing with this in a specific way. 

How to handle false accusations at work

First off, when it comes to false accusations at work, the law requires that you deal with any complaints in line with their official grievance policy.

Effective grievance policies will explain the correct procedure for raising a complaint and employers are encouraged to ensure these abide by the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

While you ought to encourage staff to raise any concerns, it may be wise to warn individuals that disciplinary action is a possible outcome in response to anyone maliciously making false accusations against someone at work.

How Peninsula Business services can help

Since 1983 we’ve assisted tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses with a wide variety of employee disputes.

It’s essential to understand where you stand with employment law regarding your duties and rights as a business.

Receiving guidance from industry experts can significantly cut down on the amount of time and money you lose to disputes.

You can also maintain your company culture by ensuring you address issues immediately. If you show to your workforce you won’t accept false allegations, it helps to improve morale.

Get in touch with us and request a call back for immediate help. We’ll ensure you receive the support to help your business through a dispute.

Holding an investigation

Before rushing into a decision, you must investigate complaints in the correct manner, reviewing any evidence an employee can provide to support their claim.

Handle investigations carefully and with great consideration—especially where they relate to particularly sensitive allegations such as bullying or sexual harassment.

You should keep in mind that even though an employee has been found to have made false accusations at work in the UK, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they ought to discipline the individual in question.

After all, the employee may genuinely have believed in the validity of their complaint.

Furthermore, certain ones may qualify as protected disclosures if they relate to one of the following a:

  • Criminal offence.
  • Failure by a person to comply with any legal obligation to which he or she is subject.
  • “Miscarriage of justice”.
  • Danger to the health or safety of any individual.
  • Damage to the environment.
  • Deliberate concealment of information about any of the above.

Whistleblowing law only requires any complaint of this nature be genuinely held, and in the public interest, meaning it doesn’t necessarily have to be correct.

Making a qualifying complaint will grant the individual protection from less favourable treatment and dismissal on this basis.

So, when it comes to dealing with false accusations at work you should take into account all of the relevant variables, including the potential for whistleblowing, and only make a decision once the risks have been accounted for.

Following this, if there is clear evidence to suggest that an individual purposely made malicious allegations in the workplace, then disciplinary action may be necessary.

Again, it is important that any action is appropriate and fair under the circumstances

How to respond to false allegations in writing

Producing this letter is straightforward. It should go about detailing:

  • The nature of the initial complaint.
  • The fact it’s false.
  • Whether you need to carry out further action.

For those looking for further assistance, here’s a sample letter for responding to false allegations at work.

*Sample letter of false allegations at work*

Dear [employee’s name],

It’s come to our attention you have made false allegations towards one of your colleagues.

Following an investigation, we believe the evidence we have gathered proves your claims are not accurate.

Due to the nature of these accusations, we must now consider suitable disciplinary actions to ensure you’re aware of our business policies—there is no toleration of making false allegations against a colleague.

We will update you further as and when the disciplinary process begins.

Yours sincerely,

[Line manager’s name]

*End template*

Disclaimer: Please be aware the above is only a sample template and not necessarily applicable to your business or situation.

When dealing with this issue you should make sure to take the necessary precautions and ensure any disciplinary decision is truly justified.

Need our help?

For any assistance with employee disputes, you can contact us on 0800 028 2420.

Suggested Resources