Suspension from work can have serious implications on an employee in terms of their reputation, morale and well-being. It may even amount to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence entitling an employee to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.
This guide provides advice on how to effectively manage a suspension without risking a costly tribunal claim.
1. When is a suspension justified? This will depend on the individual circumstances of the case but as a rule, you should not suspend an employee without just cause.
2. Should alternatives to suspension be considered? Yes. If suspension can be avoided by an alternative measure such as temporary working from home, this should be considered.
3. What do I need to advise a suspended employee? The reason for suspension, how long it is likely to last and that the suspension does not indicate guilt or is disciplinary action in itself.
4. What do I communicate to their colleagues? To safeguard reputations, the suspension and reasons surrounding it should be kept confidential. If this is not possible, then it should be explained that the suspension is a precautionary measure whilst the matter is investigated.
5. How long can I suspend an employee for? The period of suspension should be as short as possible and must be regularly reviewed.
6. Is a suspended employee entitled to pay and benefits? Yes, in most circumstances, an employee will be entitled to their full salary and benefits.
7. What happens if no disciplinary action is taken? The suspension should be lifted immediately and the employee advised to return. A return to work meeting to discuss any concerns may be advisable if the employee is aggrieved by the suspension.
If a suspension is imposed without reasonable and proper cause or is imposed in an unreasonable way, it may amount to a breach of the implied terms of trust and confidence which will entitle the employee to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.
It is therefore advisable to seek professional guidance before any decision to suspend an employee is taken.