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When is it right to suspend an employee?

When considering suspension, it is important not to make any “knee jerk” reactions and demonstrate that the act of suspension and all alternatives to the suspension were given full and due consideration.

Should you be in a position where you are thinking about suspending someone, clearly, an act of misconduct or an alleged grievance has been raised.  When planning and implementing an investigation process including who will conduct the investigation, you should also consider if the person should be suspended in order for the investigation to take place.

In order to ensure any subsequent dismissal or warning that is issued is fair, you must demonstrate you carried out a fair investigation process.  When looking at the option of suspension, you need to ask if the investigation can be carried out in a safe manner if the person remains at work, or is there a risk to the process?  If the matter relates to a bullying allegation, for example, can you ensure that the person who is alleged to have carried out the action will remain professional during the process?  If not, you may then want to consider suspension as a legitimate response to allow an investigation to take place.

Alternative options

It’s important to consider all other options to suspension first:

  • could the person be moved;
  • can work be redeployed;
  • can they work in a different location;
  • can an element of the job be changed, for example, if the issue was driving related, can the driving element be changed or redistributed while the investigation is carried out?

Whatever decision you reach, the risk assessment you can access below should be completed and kept with the investigation paperwork.

The simple take is:

  • the act of suspending someone should be kept as brief as possible;
  • suspension does not imply any guilt;
  • it should be with full pay unless you have the contractual right to suspend without pay. 

The decision to suspend must always be put in writing and if you are in the position to allow the person to return to work, the lifting of the suspension must again be put in writing.

Get your risk assessment template below

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