Can you suspend staff without a warning?

09 July 2019

Employee suspension is a topic that businesses can struggle to understand. In the event of a serious incident, what are your rights? Our guide explains the laws you must follow, along with whether you can dismiss a member of your team due to their poor conduct.

Can you be suspended from work without a warning?

In short, yes. When conducting a disciplinary procedure following an incident of alleged gross misconduct, the first action you can take is to suspend the employee without a warning. It’s to allow a proper investigation into the incident. But the process can be useful in situations where it’s felt the employee’s continued presence in the workplace could impede the investigation. It’s certainly a common question from staff members, “Can you be suspended without a warning?” If someone in your workforce faces this situation, they’ll worry about losing their job. Typically, your process doesn’t mean you suspend the employee from work and they’re then fired. Also, don’t treat the suspension as a disciplinary sanction. In this situation, suspend a staff member from work pending investigations.

Managing employee relationships

Being suspended can obviously be a distressing time for employees. So you shouldn’t put members of your team through a difficult process of suspension from work without reason. Only consider a suspension following careful evaluation of all other options available. For example, you can move the employee to a different area of the workplace. You can place them on restricted duties or have them work under supervision. If, at the end of the investigation, you confirm that an act of gross misconduct is evident, it’s up to you how to respond. Sanctions that are generally imposed will either be a warning or dismissal. However, some procedures do provide for alternative sanctions, such as a suspension punishment (but not suspended from work then fired) suspended from work then fired) without pay for a certain period of time.

How to suspend your employee

If you decide suspension is the best course of action as part of a disciplinary procedure, you should provide an employee suspension notice that outlines the reasons for your decision. It’ll need to make it clear it’s not an assumption of guilt. You should also make sure it stipulates their rights whilst suspended from work, including a point of contact from the company and whether they’re to receive full pay. Generally, the employee should receive full payment during the suspension period unless they’re not able to attend work (or there’s a clear contractual right for their suspension without pay or benefits). To avoid any confusion, it’s advisable to include a clause in contracts that outlines to employees what their rights are in this situation. You should remember that implementing or continuing an unnecessary suspension could constitute a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence in their contract of employment. That could be grounds for a constructive dismissal claim. Disciplinary investigations should be as short as possible and conducted within a reasonable time. If there are to be any delays, inform the employee of this and provide a full explanation.

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