In suspected serious cases of misconduct, an employer may suspend an employee pending investigation into the circumstances surrounding the situation. Where the misconduct falls short of potential gross misconduct then the employee should only be suspended if it is absolutely necessary and the period of suspension should be as brief as possible. However, if the employee’s actions are potentially gross misconduct they should be suspended on pay as soon as possible since allowing the employee to continue to work would undermine the “gross” nature of their actions. If an employee is suspended in such circumstances, their contract of employment must continue together with all rights under the contract including payment of salary/wages for time spent on suspension and the accrual of leave entitlements.
Suspension without pay is a potential disciplinary outcome that employers may pursue. However, this is not an advisable outcome as disciplinary outcomes are intended to be “corrective” and “not punitive”. To suspend without pay is simply a punishment and does not demonstrate any effort from the employer to correct the employee’s behaviour and show them where they went wrong. That said, suspension without pay could well be used as an alternative to dismissal where the employer is willing to give the employee one further opportunity to prove themselves when taking into account the employee’s mitigation or their previous clean disciplinary record.