Stallard Kane supports the HSE’s new Metalwork Inspections
ACAS has recently published updated guidance for employers about when and how to suspend an employee, so we have taken this opportunity to provide you with a recap on this topic.
Suspension is when you, as an employer, tell an employee to stop undertaking their work for you. This is a temporary measure, and this step entails that the employee must stop working and go home, away from the workplace, usually on full pay pending the results of an investigation.
Suspension can also include conditions imposed on the employee, for example, to refrain from having any contact with your other employees, clients, customers, suppliers and contractors. The rationale for this is that something is sufficiently serious, for your company to look to protect the individual employee, other employees, the process or your business.
There are numerous factors involved in making the correct decision to suspend or to refrain from suspending the employee. We would always advise caution when considering this step and would encourage you to contact your dedicated HR Advisor to help with the assessment to enable you to make a reasonable and proportionate decision.
Suspension does not mean there is wrongdoing on behalf of the employee in question. In fact, the suspension letter we would assist you with (if appropriate to suspend in the circumstances) confirms this as we would state: ‘Suspension is standard procedure in matters of this nature and does not indicate guilt in any way. Suspension does not constitute disciplinary action. Disciplinary action will not necessarily result.’
When considering suspension, we would also need to consider that it would potentially be upsetting and stressful for the employee in question, so this really does need to be a step when there are no other options.
We do not want to impact any employee’s mental health inadvertently so even if suspension is required, support must be also considered by you as the employer. This is because historically stigma can be attached or perceived by some people and confidentiality is key here for the employee involved. At this particular stage, we would need to keep an open mind as the allegations could have been made by another with malicious intent or the employee may have not committed any wrongdoing in any event.
Before suspending, you will need to be satisfied that other options are not viable or safe. Other options can be to direct the employee works from home or another work location (if appropriate or applicable), you could look to different shift patterns or departments from where the allegations have been raised. Any of these options are purely temporary in nature whilst taking this step.
Suspension then is usually only going to be appropriate when there are no other options to protect the employee, other employees from harm or to persevere evidence/an investigation or protect your business from serious harm.
What needs to be present is a serious risk to at least one of these aspects above. The combination of no other options together with a serious risk then indicates suspension may be necessary. Please note that if an immediate decision based on the above is not to suspend, it does not mean that as an employer you are unable to suspend the employee at a later point in the process, should further issues arise during the investigation procedure.
If you believe that you have a situation or scenario which may involve the need to suspend or you have any questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be able to assist with the review and applicable process with you.