When there is an allegation or suspicion of a serious disciplinary issue it is commonplace to suspend an employee to allow an investigation to take place. It is, however, a common misconception that you can suspend in any case of potential gross misconduct. Every case must be considered individually and the merit of suspension must be balanced with the risk of the employee continuing to attend work. There have been cases where an employee has successfully claimed constructive dismissal on the basis of being suspended from work (Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth 2017).
A suspension can be seen as a punishment in itself, regardless of how sensitively you manage the situation, it is likely that co-workers will know something is wrong and this can make it a very challenging process for the employee in question. When considering suspending an employee it is important not to do so as a knee-jerk reaction or as a standard approach to any potential gross misconduct.
Here are our top tips for handling a suspension:
- There must be a good reason for the suspension, normally associated with the risk of the employee attending work during an investigation. Could they delete or destroy evidence? Could they alter information? Are they likely to try and influence others who might be asked to give statements? Are they highly emotional which is having a detrimental impact on their work?
- Any suspension is paid, the employee continues to accrue holidays during suspension as well. If they have time off booked during their suspension its likely you will have to give them this back onto their allowance.
- Keep suspension as short as possible, whilst it is important that you do a thorough investigation this must be done as quickly as possible in order to make a decision as to whether further disciplinary action is appropriate or in the case of no further action, the employee can return to work.
- When an employee returns from suspension ensure that they have support. It can be a big step to walk back into an office following suspension.
- Keep the suspension as confidential as possible.
- You must tell the employee why they are being suspended and confirm this in writing to them. You can request that they do not come to work and do not speak to anyone. Consider how you want them to handle work calls to a company mobile (perhaps diverting to someone else). You can change passwords to prevent access to company systems during suspension.
We work with our customers to make the right decisions and can help you get it right. We also conduct investigations on behalf of our clients to ensure an impartial evaluation of the situation. If we can help you please contact us on [email protected] or 01325 288299 (option 2).