Getting employee suspension right

Following the news that Welsh councils have paid more than £9m to staff while they have suspended over the last four years (read more here), the issue of suspending employees has certainly been brought into question this weekend. When a business is considering suspending an employee pending investigation, it is imperative that they get it right.

Although suspension is regularly referred to as being a “neutral act” and that it doesn’t imply any assumption of guilt, if not carried out carefully, it could give rise to allowing an employee to claim constructive, unfair dismissal.

Here are three three top tips to take on board before making the decision to suspend an employee:

1. Consider all of the facts at hand and ask yourself whether it is necessary to suspend the employee. Could they interfere in you being able to conduct a fair investigation or prove a risk to committing the alleged misconduct again? If so, are there any alternatives to suspension, e.g. transfer them temporarily to a different department.

2. Before suspending the employee, talk to them to explain your actions. Sometimes the employee may provide you with a clear explanation as to why or how the alleged misconduct has taken place, meaning that suspension is no longer required. If you still wish to suspend, ensure you provide them with a letter explaining the terms of their suspension.

3. Whilst on suspension, make sure that you comply with all contractual terms and policies, including maintaining pay and benefits throughout the term of the suspension. Regularly review the suspension to ensure that it is no longer than necessary, as again, a lengthy suspension without merit could give rise to an employee claiming constructive dismissal.

As such, before a decision is made to suspend an employee, it is vital that all factors are considered and suspension is only implemented when necessary.

Knee-jerk reactions can be dangerous, allowing an employee to claim that their reputation has been unnecessarily damaged, without good reason, and pursue a Tribunal claim.

If you are considering suspending an employee and have a question, or indeed have any other employment law or HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact us on the number below:

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