What are the rules for suspending employees? And what happens if employers wrongly stop employees? Jennifer Smith, an employment lawyer, shares more information in this guide.
Job Suspension letter may be warranted if there is a severe/gross misconduct claim. An employer might need to suspend an employee in certain circumstances to prevent any investigation from being hampered.
The nature of the allegations and the misconduct will determine the scope of the investigation. An investigation should be fair and thorough to establish the facts necessary to determine if there is a case.
This article answers critical questions about suspension and describes the process and considerations that should be followed when dealing with disciplinary suspensions.
What are the circumstances in which an employee can be suspended?
There are several situations where it may be necessary to suspend: there is a threat to the business, employees, and customers; it’s a sensitive matter; working relationships are broken down; evidence could be altered.
Employers do not have to prove that they are required to suspend employees. What is needed is a reasonable and proper cause to stop employees. Inquiry could be conducted fairly as a result.
These are the Questions to Ask
Are customers, employees, and the business at risk if the employee isn’t suspended?
If “yes” is the response to that query, the following query should be posed:
Is there an alternative to suspension? Can an employee move to another part of the company to fulfill their job?
Can an employer temporarily alter the job (with the same benefits and terms)?
Can an employee work remotely or be assigned restricted duties? Can the employee change their working hours?
Will this mean that the investigation could be hampered?
What Happens if I am Wrongly Suspended?
Important to remember that employers must not prejudge the outcome. A suspension should be seen as a neutral act, not a punishment. Employers should suspend employees only if it is reasonable to do so.
It is important to note that suspending employees is not a neutral act by their nature.
The dismissal can be deemed unfair if the suspension was inappropriate and a subsequent release is approved. The Employment Tribunal will consider two aspects of a claim for unfair discharge.
Was there an appropriate reason for dismissal? In this case, it would be the employee’s conduct.
Was the disciplinary procedure followed reasonably? The (un-)warranted suspension of an employee and its duration will be part of these considerations. If the rest is inappropriate or poorly handled, it may be scrutinized. If there is a case, the investigation stage will be a crucial part of a fair and impartial disciplinary process.
The employee may also be able to resign for a breach in the implied term of trust or confidence. They can also file a claim for constructive unfair dismissal because the suspension was unreasonable, not warranted, and excessive in duration.
A discrimination claim could be filed if the suspension can be inferred as being due to a protected feature under the Equality Act 2010. Two employees may be being investigated in the same case, and the only one with a protected characteristic is suspended.
However, it is scarce that a suspension is not appropriate and could lead to personal injury claims.
What Length of Time can an Employee be Suspended?
To allow prompt investigation, any suspension should be brief. This will depend on the specifics of the charge and its context.
- Here are some tips to help you suspend your employee
- Other options are available.
- Before you decide to suspend, consider all options and make sure to document the reasons.
- Refer to documentation
Your disciplinary policy and the Practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures should be consulted. Make sure the disciplinary policy covers both the investigation stage as well as suspension.
Notify in Writing
Always inform your employee in writing about the reason for the suspension. Usually, the employee will be notified in writing about the reason for suspension. It is essential to do this as soon as possible after break. Employers should inform employees that they are suspending them to allow for prompt investigation and to ensure it ends on time.
Before suspending an employee, it is crucial that the investigating officer records and keeps track of all the reasons and considerations. This is vital evidence that will support the suspension.
- The following details ought to be included in the letter:
- Confirmation that the suspension is not a disciplinary action.
- The terms and restrictions of the rest.
- Communication with clients/staff.
- A point-of-contact (HR) for employee queries.
- Regularly review the suspension.
To avoid any delay, the investigation must be completed quickly. Suspension should not be extended beyond what is necessary.
Average Pay Should Apply to the Suspension
Unless otherwise stated in the employment contract, the suspension should be for average pay. An employee could be sued for breach of contract if they are not paid regularly. The rest should allow the employee to continue to receive any contractual benefits.
If an employee becomes sick after the suspension period, ill-pay rules will be in effect.