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Suspending Staff

Published 15 Apr 2019

Most of us believe we know the rules around suspension. If an employee is alleged to have performed an act of 'Serious Misconduct' the employer can immediately suspend them with impunity. Actually no, not always.

In today's employment law environment and high threshold of procedural fairness every action or inaction can and will be critiqued by the cottage industry of employee advocates. Getting one procedure step wrong and the justification of your action or the employee contribution to the situation is often thrown to the wayside as you see the personal grievance succeed against you.

Actions of serious misconduct from staff does often justify summary (instant) termination, but nevertheless there is a very strict process to follow, and the suspension part of that is not always justified.

Suspending an employee is a punitive measure and dis-advantages them in the function of performing their job. Just because you 'can' doesn't mean to say you 'should'.

Suspensions need to be reasonably justified, and procedurally fair. Bearing in mind the dangers around pre-determining outcomes and jumping to conclusions, questions need to be asked around what threat does the employee pose should they remain in role? Is there any risk to the business or from a Health & Safety point of view? Unless you deem a very real and immediate threat being present you could be unjustified at that point to suspend.

We have released a whitepaper in the Library section of the Employers Toolbox detailing the process and issues of suspension including the letters to use when appropriate. We strongly advise our clients to read and follow this should you be faced with a an instance of serious misconduct' in your workplace. Having solid and clear employment agreements and policy is the cornerstone for the rules around discipline, but clear process in the enforcement is equally as important.