I have been accused of a criminal offence. Will it affect my job?

The Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Procedures (PDF, 167KB) indicates that criminal charges or convictions outside employment should not be treated as automatic reasons for dismissal.

The main consideration should be whether the offence is one that makes you unsuitable for your type of work. Your employer, having considered the facts, will need to consider whether your conduct is sufficiently serious to warrant disciplinary proceedings. The Acas Code goes on to say that workers should not be dismissed solely because a charge against them is pending, or because they are absent as a result of being in custody. So the fact that you have been accused of a criminal offence should not necessarily affect your job.

What your employer should consider is the nature of the alleged criminal offence and whether it affects your ability to carry out your duties. If, for example, you have been accused of fraudulently obtaining money and you work in the accounts department handling cash on a daily basis, this might give your employer grounds for taking action.

There is no requirement for your employer to await the outcome of any criminal proceedings before taking any disciplinary action, including dismissal. On the other hand, if you have been accused of a driving offence which has not yet been decided upon, your employer cannot dismiss you from your driving job immediately.

If you are worried, you can contact one of the charities that support people affected by criminal convictions at work such as theInformationHub or NACRO. Both charities run confidential helplines.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.