News Article

latest news in employment law

Suspension Process

Published 01 Jul 2009

The suspension process is available to employers where the employee can be removed from the place of work in special circumstances. This can be an immediate action or it could be a planned structured process.

A suspension needs to be both justified and procedurally correct.

The Employer may only suspend an Employee where the Employment Agreement provides for suspension. If there is no Employment Agreement - you may not be able to suspend without breaching the Employee's rights.

A suspension is usually considered when an employer has reason to believe that if the Employee is not suspended, the Employee is likely to behave in such a way that they would cause serious harm to the business or perhaps other staff in the business.

Before any action is taken by the Employer, the Employer must weigh up the risk of harm to the business, against the Employee's right to work and the damage that may be caused to the Employee, by suspension. The harm could be subversive behaviour such as the taking away of clients or agencies from the employer. It might involve interference with suppliers. It might involve Health & Safety law. A suspension would very rarely involve poor performance. The Employer may need to justify why it was necessary to remove the Employee immediately. The procedure used must accord with the principles of natural justice.

While justification is reasonably easily identified the key to being procedurally correct will lie in being able to prove that you took into account the Employee's views BEFORE you made the decision to suspend.

Reasonable procedure would be then:
  • Prepare a letter of concern to set up the investigation meeting. (you may not have time to do this, but you must be prepared to tell the Employee what the issues of concern are, before the Employee is suspended)
  • Talk to the employee in private, hand the Employee the letter / tell the employee what the concerns are and tell the employee that you now have to decide what should happen before you can proceed to have a meeting with him to discuss the events. Tell the Employee that you are considering whether it would be appropriate to suspend the Employee (on full pay) until [date of the investigation meeting ]
  • Ask the questions ..Is there anything you want to say about whether or not you should be suspended until we can have a proper formal meeting to look at what has happened? Are there any circumstances you think I need to know, before I can make this decision?
  • When the Employee has had their say about suspension (don't talk to them about the substantive event – say that you don't want to talk to them about that, until they have had the chance to prepare / take advice), take a moment to consider what (if anything) they have said, and then, make your decision.
  • Tell them Employee, "I have decided to suspend you on full pay until [date] when we can have a formal investigation meeting to discuss the event(s) I have outlined. I have done so because I think it will avoid difficulties arising until this episode can be investigated. This time will also give you the opportunity to prepare for the meeting and take advice."
  • Explain what suspension means; You will leave now, and remain away from work until [date and time] for the formal meeting. Please do not contact staff / customers/suppliers directly under any circumstances. If you do need to make contact please contact [x] and we will make the appropriate arrangements.
  • Arrange any hand over - and what are people to be told? Annual leave / sick leave? Do not ask for keys etc unless the keys will be required by someone else to use during the absence
  • 'Escort' the Employee from the premises DISCREETLY – Minimise any humiliation/ discomfort.
  • Confirm the suspension and what it means in writing
Employer Support Package members please take the time to read this in the Library section of the Employers Toolbox online