If you’ve been suspended from work or think that you might be suspended from your workplace because of allegations made against you then this could be a stressful and confusing time for you. Being suspended from work often means that there are potentially serious allegations being made against you. This could result in disciplinary sanctions against you (or even dismissal) if your employer thinks that the allegations warrant it. This post is therefore intended to clarify what your rights are if you are suspended, when your employer can legitimately suspend you, and what steps your employer should take when suspending you. It’ll therefore address this in the following order:
- When can your employer legitimately suspend you?
- What steps should your employer take when suspending you?
- What are your rights if you’re suspended?
Disclaimer: you may wish to consult a solicitor for employment law advice if you have been suspended or believe you may be suspended
When can your employer legitimately suspend you?
It’s impossible to give an exhaustive list of the circumstances in which your employer may be entitled to legitimately suspend you. However, there are two “guidelines” which you can follow to determine when you might be suspended:
- Common reasons for suspension; and
- Your employer’s disciplinary policy
Common reasons for suspension include (among others) the following allegations:
- Disobeying workplace instructions
- Misuse of workplace computers
If you’ve been accused of any of the above then your employer (depending on the circumstances) may be entitled to suspend you, investigate the circumstances and (depending on the outcome) subject you to the disciplinary process.
Your employer may also have (and probably should have) a disciplinary policy which sets out in what circumstances you can expect to be suspended. Your employer may provide an exhaustive list of the above types of misconduct which could result in you being suspended.
What steps should your employer take when suspending you?
Your employer should, at first, do the following:
- Consider whether there is any way that suspension can be avoided
- Consider alternatives to suspension
- Inform you of why you’re being suspended and how long for
It’s imperative that your employer be able to show that they have at least considered whether there is an alternative to suspension in the circumstances – suspension should not be a “knee jerk” decision – your employer must consider the effect of the suspension on your career and your health. However, if your employer thinks that suspension is the correct remedy in the circumstances then you should ideally be provided with written confirmation of why you’re being suspended and how long you are being suspended for. Further, you should be made aware of when any decision to suspend you will be reviewed.
Your employer may choose to offer you a compromise agreement if they choose to take disciplinary action against you. You will need to seek compromise agreement advice from an independent legal entity at this point (such as a solicitor).
What are your rights if you’re suspended?
There are no absolute “obligations” that employers have to adhere to in such circumstances but a failure to treat you in a decent fashion may render any disciplinary sanctions against you or dismissal unfair. Ideally, you should be informed of why, when and for how long you’re being suspended. A reasonable investigation should be undertaken and a fair disciplinary process, should that be necessary.
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