How should you suspend an employee?

In my last blog we looked at when you should suspend an employee, but do you know your legal responsibilities for the process?

A suspension is when an employee does not have to attend or undertake any work but continues to be employed by you. Suspensions should only be considered if there is:

  • a serious allegation of misconduct
  • medical grounds to suspend
  • a workplace risk to an employee who is a new or expectant mother.

A suspension should not be used as a disciplinary sanction, but you can use it in a disciplinary procedure if absolutely necessary, or if there are risks to an employee’s health.

What happens if a suspension is necessary?

If suspension is necessary, you need to provide the employee with a suspension letter. This needs to include:

  • the reasons for the suspension,
  • how long it is expected to last,
  • their rights and obligations during the suspension.
  • Their point of contact (such as a manager or HR) and contact details.

You need to make it very clear that the purpose of suspension, if is part of a disciplinary procedure, is to investigate the matter and it is not an assumption of guilt.

As an employer, you need to continue the employee’s full pay and benefits during the period of suspension. However if there is a serious allegation of misconduct the employee may not receive their full pay is there is contractual right for you to suspend them without pay or benefits, or if they are not willing or able to attend work .

You should seek advice if this is the case. An unpaid suspension may lead to accusations that the disciplinary procedure is not fair, and leave you open to risk.

Medical and Maternity Grounds

An employee suspended from work on medical grounds must receive their full pay unless they have been employed for less than one month, are not willing or able to attend work, have unreasonably refused suitable alternative work or have been have been suspended for more than 26 weeks.

An employee suspended on maternity grounds must receive their full pay unless they either are not willing or able to attend work (for example because they are ill) or have unreasonably refused suitable alternative work.

If the suspended employee advises they are ill and would not be able to attend work if required, they should receive their usual sick pay.

How long should a suspension last?

Acas states that the period of suspension should be kept as brief as possible and regularly reviewed to ensure it is still necessary.

You need to keep the employee regularly updated about their suspension, the ongoing reasons for it, and how much longer it is likely to last; with regular contact maintained between the employee and their manager and/or point of contact during the suspension.

When suspended, you should let the employee know that they are still expected to be contactable during normal working hours and available to attend any necessary meetings or interviews.

You also need to ensure that the employee is supported and able to contact someone at the workplace to discuss any concerns they may have. If the suspension is part of a disciplinary procedure, you may ask the employee to not communicate with other staff while they are suspended.

If the employee wants to go on holiday during their suspension, they must still make a request to take annual leave.

What happens when you end a suspension?

Once a suspension has come to an end, the employee should return to work immediately. It may be a good idea to arrange a return-to-work meeting on their first day back to provide an opportunity to discuss any issues and resolve any concerns, especially if they are feel worried about returning to work. You can arrange this away from the workplace if necessary.

If you need some advice regarding a suspension or have any other queries about HR, contact me today.

 

 

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