False Allegations at Work

  • Employee Conduct
False Allegations
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

False allegations at work are damaging, but your business has to deal with complaints your employees raise—here’s how to handle this potentially damaging situation.

All employers should encourage their employees to open up about any concerns they have. Doing so can help improve the culture of your company. But sometimes, you may have employees who make false allegations against their colleagues.

If this is the case, it's important you manage the situation correctly. Failure to do so can lead to a decrease in employee morale and claims to an employment tribunal with potential compensation to pay.

In this guide, we'll discuss what false allegations at work are, ways to handle them, and how to avoid claims being raised against you. Peninsula offers expert advice on false allegations at work if it happens in your company.

Peninsula also offer a HR documentation service, meaning we'll create bespoke contract and documentation - ensuring compliance at all times.

Peninsula provides total support on any HR or Health & Safety issue you have. From unlimited advice to our full documentation and risk assessment services, we'll ensure compliance at all times, contact us today.

We provide advice and support to companies of all sizes - large (200+ employees), medium (51-200 employees), small (1-49 employees), and start-ups.

What are false allegations?

False allegations are complaints made by a person that are simply not true. Also known as a false statement or an unfounded accusation, they can cause damage to both the accused employee and your business. As well as alleged misconduct at work.

Employees facing unfounded allegations can experience anxiety, depression, and isolation. So it's important you take each complaint of false statements seriously.

Common examples of false allegations at work

There are common examples of false accusations that you need to be aware of. Becoming familiar with them can help you manage the situation more efficiently.

These examples are:

Is it a crime to make false and malicious accusations?

False accusations at work can indeed be a crime if the accusation is serious. For example, if it’s sexual misconduct then an offence could be committed. The falsely accused person may seek legal advice if they feel they've got a strong enough case.

However it doesn't always mean you need to go to court, but it could lead to an employment tribunal claim.

Why would an employee make a false accusation against another?

There are some reasons why one employee would give false information about a colleague. As an employer, it's important you understand them.

Reasons for making false accusations include:

  • Jealousy.
  • The escalation of workplace conflict.
  • The breakdown of a workplace relationship.
  • Ill feelings regarding promotion or development.

How to handle false accusations made by an employee against another

It's important you know how to handle false accusations at work if they're made by an employee. A fair disciplinary process should be followed to ensure you're acting lawfully. You should follow the ACAS Code of Practice. This should be done in a timely manner following the complaint being made.

The following steps should be taken:

Conduct a fair investigation

The first stage of the procedure is to start with a fair workplace investigation into the malicious complaint that has been made.

This includes gathering as much evidence as you can, along with witness statements from both parties. It's important you look at all mitigating factors to do with the case, including any underlying reasons for the complaint.

Hold an investigation meeting

The individual carrying out the investigation must be unbiased and have no prior involvement in the complaint. As well as this, the same person shouldn't look at the whole case. Different people should speak to both parties and any witnesses.

The following questions can be asked during the investigation:

  • Does the employee accusing have solid evidence?
  • Is there prior history between both parties?
  • Is conciliation available so the case can be resolved early?
  • Does the alleged party have any evidence for their defence?

Make sure someone is taking minutes throughout the meeting. They should be signed and dated by all relevant parties.

It's important not to have prior judgments before going into the hearing. A fair and open mind should be always used. At the end of the meeting, you should inform both parties of the timescale for resolving the issue.

Make a decision

The next stage of handling a false allegation is to consider whether disciplinary sanctions are appropriate. If you believe the alleged person has committed misconduct, then appropriate action should be taken (under the company's disciplinary policy.

However, if the evidence suggests the allegations are true, then no disciplinary action is required for the accuser.

A report should be produced that summarises the evidence and any inconsistencies that were found. If there is clear evidence that points to the employee making false accusations, disciplinary action may be needed.

Respond appropriately in writing

It's important you make both parties aware of the investigation outcome without an unnecessary delay.

Included in the letter should be:

  • The nature of the complaint.
  • Whether further action is required.

Failure to commence disciplinary action following a false allegation may have a negative impact on employee morale. Especially if perpetrators seem to be getting away with acts of malicious intent.

Can an employee face termination over making false allegations?

Yes, if there is clear and relevant evidence that an employee purposely made malicious allegations then termination may be necessary.

However, any disciplinary action must be fair. If you terminate employment and you acted harshly - you may face claims of unfair dismissal.

Are employees protected when making false allegation complaints?

Yes, certain types of employee complaints or disclosures are protected. These occur when an employee has a belief that any of the below happened within the company:

  • Failure to comply with a legal obligation.
  • A criminal offence.
  • A ‘miscarriage of justice'.
  • Danger to the Health & Safety of an individual.
  • Environmental danger.

The employee making the complaint is also protected from dismissal or detriment from their employer.

Can you be taken to an employment tribunal over false allegation claims?

Yes, if you don't handle complaints of false accusations correctly you may face legal action.

It's important you follow a fair process in line with your disciplinary or grievance policy. Not doing so can mean you're acting outside of employment law.

How to act fairly when managing false accusations

As an employer, you should do everything you can to act fairly and avoid claims being raised against you to employment tribunals. And, there are steps you can take to stop this from being the case.

Taking these steps can save you from legal trouble, compensation to pay and unwanted stresses. So, let's discuss them in more detail:

Provide warning of possible consequences

It's important that you make the false accuser aware of all the possible outcomes before the disciplinary meeting.

This helps both you and the employee understand the severity of the situation in hand. Hopefully helping to avoid any shock and surprise in the outcome.

Give the employee the opportunity for appeal

During the investigation hearing, you should give the employee in question the right to appeal.

The appeal process is used to provide an unbiased review of the case with a fresh pair of eyes.

Keep a record of any disciplinary action

It's vitally important you keep clear and adequate records of any disciplinary investigations that take place. Doing so becomes even more crucial if an employee disagrees with the outcome.

If there's disagreement, you can ask the employee to provide a corrected version. Both copies should be kept on record. Records can prove to be vital evidence, especially if the case is taken to an employment tribunal.

Create clear policies

Another way of avoiding claims is to create strong policies on false allegations. This is done so your employees understand the seriousness of falsely accusing someone of something that isn't true.

It should be made clear within the policy that making false accusations and allegations is an act of misconduct. Your human resources department will be able to assist you in creating the policies.

Get expert advice on false allegations at work from Peninsula

Encouraging your employees to give feedback is a great way to run a business, however you may have employees who make false accusations against fellow colleagues.

If this happens, it's vital you handle the situation correctly and follow a fair disciplinary process. Failure to do so can lead to claims being raised against you to an employment tribunal.

Peninsula offers expert advice on handling false allegations at work. Our teams offer 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and health & safety questions


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • a woman clutching her stomach


    Is Endometriosis a Disability?

    Is endometriosis a disability? What support can you offer employees with the condition? Find out how to help them in our blog.

    Peninsula Team Peninsula Team
    • Equality & Diversity
  • people smiling at a desk


    Employee Engagement

    In this guide, we'll discuss what employee engagement is, why it's important, and ways to improve it in your business.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employee Conduct
  • three people sitting around a coffee table smiling


    Employee Morale

    Read our guide where we'll discuss what positive employee morale looks like, its impact on your company, and methods of boosting employee morale.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employee Conduct
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.