How to handle a false accusation at work

You'll need to be ready to defend yourself if you've been falsely accused of wrongdoing at work. The good news is that no professional company will sack you on the spot without thoroughly investigating any claims made against you, so you'll have the opportunity to put your side of the story. If false allegations have been made, take advantage of any support that's available.

Disciplinary procedure

Review your company's disciplinary procedures if an informal discussion with a manger fails get to the bottom of the false accusation levelled against you. You should have been given a document outlining these when you first stated working for your employer. If you weren't, ask your manager or HR department for a copy of them. While many businesses follow advice from Acas when dealing with disciplinary matters, some have their own procedures. Familiarise yourself with the process you will face if the accusation against you is going to result in disciplinary action.

Advice and support

Contact your union representative and ask for support to help you fight the false accusation that's been made against you. If you're not a union member, consider joining one. Use the TUC's workSMART union finder to locate an organisation that may be able to help you. Speak to an employment solicitor if you've been accused of acting illegally. Union membership may entitle you free legal advice.


You'll typically be asked to attend an initial investigatory meeting if an accusation made against you triggers disciplinary procedures. You should be given adequate time to prepare for this and gather evidence to support your case. Find out if your company will allow you to take somebody along to the meeting with you. You may be able to request the presence of a union representative. If you've been accused of acting illegally, you may have to speak to the police or a regulatory body that governs your industry. Seek legal advice if this is the case.


If your employer suspects that you may tamper with evidence or interfere with potential witnesses, it may suspend you on full pay while it continues its investigations. The TUC advises you should contact your union representative immediately if this happens to you. The Acas code says “the suspension period should be as brief as possible and kept under review.”

Disciplinary action

Your employer will write to you and invite you to disciplinary hearing if it decides to take action against you. Before any hearing, your employer should send you information about the evidence that will be presented against you. At the meeting, the complaint will be outlined along with evidence supporting it. You'll be given the opportunity to challenge this. If you can provide new evidence that refutes the accusation made against you, the process may be adjourned.


If you're found guilty, your employer will inform you in writing and provide details of any action you will face. You'll have the chance to appeal the decision as laid out in your employer's disciplinary procedures. The TUC advises: "If you believe that your employer’s mind is made up, but remain unhappy with the decision, you should appeal." Exhausting your employer's appeals procedure can be presented as evidence that you disagreed with its decision if you decide to take your case further.

Employment tribunal

Seek advice about taking your case to an employment tribunal after you've exhausted your employer's appeals process. You'll typically need to launch proceedings within three months of your employer's final decision. If you're a union member, talk to your rep. If not, contact the Law Centres Network or Citizens Advice.

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About the Author

Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.