Suspension from work is possible under certain circumstances during a disciplinary investigation. This must be if your employer believes that by continuing at work you could hamper its investigations. Or if by continuing at work you might put your employer, its staff or its clients at risk.
Under no circumstances should you be suspended during the course of an investigation as a punishment. And suspension should not be allowed to prejudice the deliberations of a hearing manager at any subsequent disciplinary hearing. In itself, suspension should imply no fault or guilt on your behalf.
Your employer’s procedures may detail the conditions that must apply for your suspension from work to be permitted.
If you are suspended, this should be on full pay. The exact reasons why, and conditions of, your suspension should also be confirmed in writing.
Case law sets limits on when exactly suspension from work can be acceptable. It requires that employers must:
- act reasonably;
- have reasonable grounds for suspending you, and;
- ensure that the period of your suspension is reasonable.
This requirement was established by the High Court in the case, McClory & others v The Post Office (1993). To judging whether suspension has been justified, an employment tribunal or court must judge whether the decision to suspend was actually reasonable at the time it was taken. Not apply the benefit of hindsight.
ACAS’s guidelines, ‘Discipline and Grievances at Work’, also explain to employers that suspension from work may only be permitted exceptionally and under very specific requirements:
There may be instances where suspension with pay is necessary while investigations are carried out. For example where relationships have broken down, in gross misconduct cases or where there are risks to an employee’s or the company’s property or responsibilities to other parties. Exceptionally you may wish to consider suspension with pay where you have reasonable grounds for concern that evidence will be tampered with, destroyed or witnesses pressurised before the meeting.
Suspension with pay should only be imposed after careful consideration and should be reviewed to ensure it is not unnecessarily protracted.”
ACAS also states that:
“A short period of suspension with full pay to help establish the facts or to allow tempers to cool may be helpful. However, such a period of suspension should only be imposed after careful consideration and should be kept under review”.
ACAS provides further guidance here.
You can make a complaint to an employment tribunal if your employer ignores these requirements.
If you believe that you have been unfairly suspended, you can make a grievance complaint.
Suspension on medical grounds or for new and expectant mothers
For entirely different reasons, it is also possible to suspend you from work if there is a specific medical hazard. Or if a risk assessment shows that you are at risk of remaining at work.
We provide guidance on this elsewhere on this website.
If your employer has suspended you from work, this must be because it has reasonable grounds for believing you may have been at serious fault which needs investigating. Therefore, your job could be at risk.
Contact your union immediately if are already a trade union member. If you are not, WRS can help you by:
- Challenging your employer if there are insufficient grounds for your suspension.
- Helping you prepare for any subsequent disciplinary meeting. This will include preparing a Written Statement to present your case in the clearest and most effective way.
- Arranging for a representative of a trade union to accompany you at any disciplinary meeting. This experienced representative will provide you with the very best chance of winning your case.
You can find out here more about the invaluable support WRS provides.