You might be suspended if you are being investigated for misconduct or for medical or health and safety reasons. You will usually be told not to attend your place of work or communicate with your colleagues. Read on for more information about what it means to be suspended and your rights during suspension.
Reasons for suspension
In cases of serious misconduct, you may be suspended as part of a disciplinary procedure whilst the allegations against you are investigated. This may be appropriate in circumstances where there is a threat to the business or other staff members or there is concern that you may try to tamper with evidence or put pressure on witnesses, or where relationships at work have broken down.
Medical/health and safety
You may be suspended if your job is posing a risk to your health and safety. Your employer should consider whether there is any other suitable alternative role for you that reduces or eliminates the risk as opposed to suspension.
If you are pregnant, your employer should complete a risk assessment of your job and working conditions to eliminate any health and safety risks to you and your baby.
Is my employer contractually permitted to suspend me?
You may be suspended if the employment contract provides for this, but your employer must still act reasonably. If there is no contractual right to suspend this doesn’t mean that your employer cannot suspend you. As long as there is a genuine reason for suspending you and you don’t suffer any detriment your employer is likely to have acted reasonably.
Suspension is a serious step and your employer must consider whether it can be avoided. It may be possible for example to relocate you to another area of the business while the investigation is carried out. Your employer must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspend to avoid breaching the term of ‘mutual trust and confidence’ which is implied into every employment contract. If there are not reasonable grounds to suspend you, or the investigation takes an excessive length of time to carry out (without reasonable explanation) which makes it untenable for you to return to work, you may have a claim for constructive dismissal.
What is the process that my employer should follow when suspending me?
You should be informed of the fact that you are suspended as soon as possible. If your employer does so verbally, it should be followed up in writing. The letter confirming suspension should make it clear that you are suspended and how long it is anticipated you will be suspended for, explain your rights and obligations during the period of suspension, confirm that the employment contract continues but that you should not report to work or contact colleagues or clients (if applicable) and give you a point of contact during your period of suspension (this may be a line manager or human resources manager).
The period of suspension should be as short as possible and the decision to suspend kept under review. Your employer should be careful about what information colleagues and clients are given about your suspension. Suspension should be a neutral act and used not as a form of punishment but as a means of carrying out an investigation as quickly as possible. There should be no assumption of guilt which may prejudice the fairness of any subsequent disciplinary hearing.
What are my rights during suspension?
Unless there is a clause in the contract that says your employer can suspend you without pay, you should receive full pay whilst suspended. This is the case, even if the suspension is part of a disciplinary process. Suspension on grounds of medical or health and safety issues should always be on full pay.
You retain your employment rights while suspended. If you do not receive the correct pay whilst suspended for example, you may be able to bring a claim against your employer for ‘unlawful deduction of wages’.
Your employer may prevent you communicating with colleagues or clients as a condition of the suspension. This is lawful as long as it does not restrict your ability to respond to the allegations against you.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help
If you would like assistance following your suspension, please contact us on 01522 440512 for a free consultation with a specialist employment solicitor. For more information about misconduct allegations or the disciplinary process, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/disciplinary-meeting-at-work/
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors