The odds are you’ve reserved the right to suspend employees accused of misconduct whilst you investigate the allegations against them, either within your disciplinary policy or the contract of employment.
If you’ve not had cause to actually consider the implications of invoking this, now is as good a time as any.
A recent case in the High Court gives a stark warning that suspension should not be a knee-jerk reaction to an allegation of misconduct, particularly where the employee is of professional standing.
Whilst suspension is not a disciplinary sanction, the court reiterated that suspension is not a ‘neutral’ act. It carries with it connotations and potentially damages an employee’s reputation, regardless of what may be contained within the most well-crafted disciplinary policy.
Despite an express right to suspend, an employee who feels that this has been exercised in breach of the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence might well feel aggrieved, leading to potential claims.
We’re certainly not saying you cannot suspend an employee. It’s often the best thing to do but let’s assume a worst case scenario that you end up in front of a court or tribunal. The judge will want to see the evidence to determine whether you acted reasonably, so having your ducks in a row is crucial.
Our 5 top tips to keep in mind when suspending employees
Do you have the right to suspend?
What are the allegations and are they substantive? Speak to the employee about the allegations and consider what they say.
Is there a potential danger to other employees, clients, customers or the public or is the investigation likely to be prejudiced by the employee remaining on normal duties?
Are there any alternatives: a move to another role, supervision, working from another location?
Confirm in writing, keep records and keep suspension under review.
If you require help with potential misconduct issues, including suspending employees, anyone within the Employment team will be pleased to advise.