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Top Tips To Consider When Suspending Employees

Mark Ferron

26 January 2018

Most employers will have some kind of disciplinary policy and procedure, which will provide and enable for an employee to be suspended on full pay whilst a disciplinary investigation against them is underway.

The disciplinary procedure and subsequent letter to the employee will usually say that suspension is not a disciplinary action, it is “a neutral act’ and is to allow the company to carry out the necessary investigations and sometimes it’s there to protect the individual being investigated.

IMPORTANT: Approach with Caution!

It most cases, suspending an employee will be the most appropriate and the best course of action to take. However, suspending an employee is a serious step to take and considerable care should be taken with this kind of action. Do it badly or inappropriately and you could just be caught by a constructive dismissal, discrimination or a stress claim, or even an injunction especially if you allow it to drag on unreasonably.

Below are some tips you will need to consider before suspending an employee:

What does it mean to suspend an employee?

There are in effect two main ways to suspend an employee:
• Suspension for medical or health and safety reasons
• Suspension as part of a disciplinary process

I will just be concentrating on the later, suspension as part of a disciplinary process whilst the disciplinary investigation to be carried out.

Suspension will mean that the employee will be sent home and not allowed to enter their place of work or engaged in any work at all, such as working from home. It will also mean that the employee will not be allowed to have any contact with any work colleagues or customers during that period without express permission.

Top tips when suspending employees

Suspended employees at the start or during any disciplinary process is a legitimate course of action, it is important as an employer that this should be approached with caution because some organizations and how fallen foul at an employment tribunal as a result of not taking care.

Expert advocate Mark Ferron explains and gives some top tips for suspending employers

Here are some top tips of how suspension should be handled as an employer.

Carefully consider all the facts before you actually suspend the employee, this will include looking at the seriousness of the allegation, the evidence available at the time, the company's policies, you may even want to consider alternatives of part of your decision-making process and a note should be made of that.

Provide clear reasons for the suspensions to the individual and this should be put in writing.

It should be made clear to the employee that you’ve not reached a foregone conclusion in relation to the allegations.

It's helpful to give them clear instructions on what their rights are and obligations during the suspension period, for example not to return to work or not contact their colleagues or clients without your permission.

And they must be available for any meetings when requested.

Extreme caution should be exercised when communicating a suspension to other employees especially if it could cause the suspended employee distress or may even harm their reputation or even damage the trust and confidence they have in the Company.

The period of suspension should be as short as possible.
Suspension decision should be kept under regular and you should put this in writing in short letter confirming that it has been reviewed and the investigation is on-going.

The discipline investigation should be concluded as soon as possible to avoid that unnecessary lengthening of the suspension period and depending on your resources and what the allegations are, sometimes it's good to bring an external help from somebody independent to the situation.

The employee should continue to be paid and receive their normal benefits.

So there are some top tips of how suspension should be handled as an employer so for more information please visit our website or if you have any questions please contact me on LinkedIn, thank you.