Falsifying documents in the workplace UK

  • Employee Conduct
a retail worker looking at a computer tablet
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Falsification of documents can be dangerous for your business and your customers. Learn how to spot and deal with it here.

Deliberate falsification of official documents can occur for many reasons. Employees may alter time cards (see clock cards) to change the record of a person’s hours at work, financial documents, inventory records, sales records and so on.

This behaviour is not only unethical but sometimes illegal. This can negatively affect your employees and your business. Falsification of official documents costs everyone, whether it be the company itself, its employees or customers.

Fraud, forgery and falsification in the workplace can put people’s lives at risk — both members of the public and employees. Learn what falsification is, why it occurs, and how to stop it in this guide.

What is document falsification?

Falsifying documents in the UK is the act of intentionally changing or changing the information on a document intending to mislead a person or company.

This includes changing data within documents, concealing certain information, or even knowingly distributing fake information for employment.

Why do people falsify documents?

Both employers and employees may choose to falsify a document for the sake of their own personal gain.

For example, an employee may alter the number of hours they have worked during the week, or an employer may want their company to look more attractive by changing the number of sales on their records.

Regardless of who is falsifying documents in the workplace, anything that deceives the business goals or its customers can only hurt the business. And employers face harsh penalties for non-compliance, including potential jail time.

Employment law and falsification of records

Is falsifying a document a crime? The quick answer is it can be.

The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that makes it illegal to make fake versions of many things, including legal documents, contracts, audio and visual recordings, and money of the United Kingdom and certain protected coins.

What is the penalty for falsifying documents?

Falsifying document UK law punishments can include criminal prosecution depending on the sector in question, such as if the company operates in the financial industry.

It can also cause significant disruption in the workplace if left unchecked and fines from regulatory bodies.

So, the penalties can vary depending on the sector and circumstances. Regardless, this is something that you as an employer should work against as much as possible.

Examples of falsification

Anyone in a business can commit a falsification offence. Because it can benefit several members of the business, it can occur at any level as well.

Whether it be a low-level employee trying to earn more money or managerial staff trying to fool shareholders, it is essential you know how to deal with all cases.

Employee falsifying documents in the workplace

Deliberate falsification of official documents can occur for many reasons. Employees may alter time cards to change the record of a person’s hours at work, financial documents, inventory records, sales records and so on.

Workers may do this for their own financial or personal advantage, for example, to get more overtime, increase their bonus, or over egg their expenses. They may falsify financial documents to inflate the performance of the company.

Manager falsifying documents

They may falsify documents under duress from others within the company, which is a less straightforward situation to resolve.

There may be instances of an employer falsifying documents in the workplace because of management. They can try to falsify certain information in order to paint a more favourable situation of the company than is actually the case.

Falsification of official documents costs everyone, whether it be the company itself, its employees or customers.

How to handle document falsification

However unethical falsifying documents at work may seem and however straightforward a reason for the dismissal of an employer may believe it to represent, it is still essential to follow procedures when an employee is terminated for falsifying documents.

And it is also essential to ensure employees are aware of the potential consequences of such behaviours.

The disciplinary procedure for falsifying records

First, you may wonder is falsifying documents gross misconduct? The answer is that this will ultimately depend on the company in question, the falsification that has taken place and the implications of this action. In order to make it clear how the company will respond to a situation like this, it is highly advisable that you specified this with company policies and/or handbooks.

When an employee is accused of falsifying documents at work, it is essential that a full investigation is conducted.

This should take care to gather all relevant evidence, speak to the accused employee and any additional witnesses to the event. From here, you should hold a disciplinary hearing to weigh up the facts and allow the employee to defend their actions.

If, following this, you determine the employee has falsified documents, decide on your next course of action carefully. As stated above, whether you will consider this gross misconduct will very much depend on the circumstances.

If you believe that this should constitute gross misconduct, you can consider the employee being fired for falsifying documents.

Expert support on documentation with Peninsula 

Documentation is an important part of any business, so make sure you get it right. Ensure your documentation has processes that make it hard for an employee to forge any.

Our business document writing services can help whether you’re creating HR policies from scratch or updating your existing documents.

Call us on 0800 028 2420 to find out what our employment law experts can do for you.


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

Related articles

  • four people stood around a desk


    Racial discrimination at work

    Read our guide on racial discrimination at work. Discover what it is, its different forms, and how you can manage it in your company.

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Discrimination
  • Someone on the phone.


    Can you suspend staff without a warning?

    Our guide explains the laws you must follow, along with whether you can dismiss a member of your team due to their poor conduct.

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Disciplinary
  • Employees walking down the stairs.


    Objective Justification

    Objective justifications are accepted workplace rules or policies that may otherwise be discrimination.

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Discrimination
Back to resource hub

Try Peninsula for free today

See for yourself why Peninsula is the UK’s favourite HR and health & safety provider. Tap below to unlock free advice, policies, e-learning, and more.

Sign up to our newsletter

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

International sites

© 2023 Peninsula Business Services Limited. Registered Office: The Peninsula, Victoria Place, Manchester, M4 4FB. Registered in England and Wales No: 1702759. Peninsula Business Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of non-investment insurance contracts.

ISO 27001 and 9001 accredited company.
The Sunday Times - Top Track 250.
Glassdoor 2018 Best Places To Work.