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Suspending Employees

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

This guide sets out the circumstances where suspending an employee may be appropriate, as well as the process employers should follow and the considerations they should be aware of.

Suspension is a serious decision and should not be taken lightly.

When might you be able to suspend an employee?

The most important thing to stress is that suspension should never be a knee-jerk reaction to a situation. Whilst it can be suitable in serious cases of misconduct, an employee should not use suspension automatically. Suspension should also not be used as a punishment for the employee.

Instead, suspension should be a means of carrying out an investigation as effectively as possible. However, it will still only be appropriate in some situations, for example, for the protection of the business or of other employees. Each situation should be carefully reviewed, considering all the facts before deciding to suspend. If suspension is decided, it should be for as short a period as possible.

In deciding whether to suspend an employee, you should:

  • Ensure you investigate and have as much information as possible about what has happened and the seriousness of it,
  • Consider the wellbeing and mental health of the employee if they were to be suspended.

Alternatives to Suspension

Before suspending an employee, it is important to consider whether there are any alternatives. These could include:

  • Changing the employees’ shifts,
  • Changing the employee’s work site or allow them to work from home.
  • Working with different customers or away from customers.
  • Stopping the employee from working with certain systems, tools or on specific tasks – for example, if they are under investigation for a particular activity relating to a system, tool or task.

If there are two or more employees involved, the situation must be decided fairly. If they need to be separated, it is advised not to move the person who made the complaint (unless they requested this).

Any changes, however temporary they may be, should be kept confidential wherever possible.

The Suspension Process

If suspension is decided, the employer should take the following steps:

  • Ensure the employee is informed of the decision to suspend as soon as possible and keep them informed of the progress of the investigation.
  • Confirm they will continue to receive their pay and any other contractual benefits during their suspension (unless their contract provides otherwise).
  • Keep the decision under review.
  • Notify the employee of a point of contact, such as HR.
  • Let them know what support is available.
  • Ensure you keep a paper trail and written records to be able to demonstrate the steps taken before a decision is reached.

This guide only provides an overview of the law in the area and the considerations employers should be aware of when deciding whether to suspend an employee.

For a complete understanding of how to deal with your particular circumstances, please contact our Employment Team for a free initial assessment.