Employer obligations following suspension?
Suspension is where an employee continues to be employed but does not have to attend work or do any work and usually occurs when:
• a serious allegation of misconduct has arisen
• there are medical grounds to suspend
• there is a workplace risk to an employee who is a new or expectant mother
Suspension should not be used as a disciplinary sanction and should not be automatic when dealing with a potential disciplinary matter as normally an employee will be able to continue doing their normal role while the matter is investigated.
Suspension should be considered if there is a serious allegation of misconduct and:
• the working relationships have severely broken down
• there is a risk that the employee might tamper with evidence, influence witnesses and/or sway the investigation into the allegation
• there is a risk to other employees, property or customers
• the employee is the subject of criminal proceedings which may affect whether they can do their job.
In certain circumstances, a health professional may recommend that an individual worker is unfit to work with a particular hazard. If the hazard cannot be immediately removed, the employer should consider:
• temporarily adjusting working conditions
• offering suitable alternative work (at the same rate of pay and on terms no less favourable than the original role).
If it is not feasible to make such adjustments, the employer may have to suspend until it is safe to return to work.
Following notification of an employee’s pregnancy, the employer must undertake a risk assessment taking into account any advice the employee has received from their doctor or midwife. If the risk cannot be removed, the employer must:
• temporarily adjust working conditions and/or working hours, and if that is not possible
• offer suitable alternative work (at the same rate of pay and on terms no less favourable than the original role) and if that is not feasible
• suspend the employee from work on paid leave until their maternity leave begins or it is safe for them to return to work.
• If suspension is necessary, an employee should be provided with a suspension letter that includes:
• the reasons for the suspension and how long it is expected to last
• their rights and obligations during the suspension. For example, that they should be contactable during normal working hours
• a point of contact (such as a manager or HR) and their contact details for the employee during their suspension
• that the purpose of suspension is to investigate and is not an assumption of guilt (if applicable)
Employees should usually receive their full pay and benefits during a period of suspension.