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Can you be suspended from work without being told why?

Can you be suspended from work without being told why?

The answer is that much would depend on the circumstances and the approach of the employer. Only basic information may be provided at the time of the suspension. However, employees should ultimately be given sufficient details to be able to provide their version of events during the investigation and be able to effectively put their case at a disciplinary hearing if things go that far.

This blog will provide answers to common questions relating to suspension and the way in which it should be handled.

Is a suspension disciplinary action?

 

Suspension is a step that can be taken as a part of the disciplinary process. However, suspension does not necessarily mean that a disciplinary sanction will be imposed.

If I was only given limited information when I was suspended when will I get all of it?

 

Prior to attending an investigation meeting, employees should be provided with enough information to understand the concerns being investigated. By way of a simple example, if the employee does not know what the relevant dates are, there may be confusion over which events are to be discussed. Conversely, knowing such information may enable employees to point out, during the investigation, that they were not present at the relevant time. This in turn may well prompt further enquiries to be made as part of the investigation. For further information on investigation meetings at work read our blog  Investigation meetings at work

If the matter were to progress to a disciplinary hearing, an employer should provide all relevant information to the employee prior to the hearing taking place. For more information about a disciplinary hearing, read our blog How to be successful at a disciplinary hearing

What would affect what an employee is told when a suspension occurs?

 

Much depends on the amount of information that is available to an employer at the time of the suspension. For example, where an employer has details such as dates when the issues being investigated occurred, or is able to precisely articulate the matters of concern, these details should be provided to the employee as soon as possible.

Depending on the particular circumstances, it may be possible for an employer to provide this level of detail at the time of the suspension. Perhaps, the information is expressed verbally and then provided in writing soon after.

In other circumstances, it may not be possible to provide such specific details at the outset because there is insufficient information to make that possible. Where that is the case, the employee may only be provided with basic information at the outset such as the nature of the issues e.g. theft, health and safety breaches etc. Further detail would then be provided later as the investigation progresses.

If I am suspended, can I continue working as long as I do not enter my workplace?

 

This would depend on instructions that are provided when the suspension takes place. An employer should confirm what the employee should do (or not do) during the suspension.

It is common for employers not to permit suspended employees to undertake any work for the organisation regardless of whether the work in question could be done remotely.

What should an employee who has been suspended do?

 

If an employer requires those who have been suspended to behave in a particular way, such as by doing or not doing certain acts, this should be made clear. For example, it is common for employers to insist that the person who is suspended does not contact colleagues or that the person does attend meetings such as those relating to the investigation.

There is much that a person on suspension can do to improve the situation. It may well be useful to gain professional advice to inform next steps. Such assistance may relate to explaining the process, preparing for the investigation etc.

For more information on what positive steps an employee could take during suspension, or to find out what a person’s rights are whilst being suspended, read our blog Suspended at work, will I get fired?

 

When might suspension occur?

 

The organisation’s disciplinary procedure may well lay out the circumstances in which suspension would take place. Common examples of such circumstances are when the misconduct being investigated is regarded as being the most serious (gross misconduct), when it is thought likely that the person would interfere with the investigation if suspension did not occur, or when health and safety may be compromised by the person being in the workplace.

It is for an employer to decide when a suspension is appropriate, but such decision making should be fair and consistent.

Can an Employment Tribunal claim be brought over a suspension?

 

The answer to that question is that it would depend on the circumstances. Subject to having the necessary length of service, an employee could resign and claim constructive dismissal. However, before taking such a step it would be wise to take advice in order to make an informed decision about next steps.

Similarly, it may well be sensible for employers to gain professional advice prior to a suspension being initiated. For example, it may be that other options are more appropriate in the circumstances. If suspension is decided on, it is important to ensure that it is handled appropriately. If there are missteps they could undermine the process and potentially prompt Employment Tribunal claims such as those referred to above.

Will I lose my job if I have been suspended?

 

 We have written an entire blog on that particular question which is called Suspended at work, will I get fired? Click on the link to find out the answer, as well as other information such as what an employee’s rights are when suspended.

Plotkin and Chandler works exclusively in the areas of HR and employment law, and we represent both employees and employers.

 If you are an employee who has been suspended and would like guidance on next steps, you are facing an investigation meeting or disciplinary hearing and would like advice, or you would like to discuss pursuing an Employment Tribunal claim, we would be pleased to hear from you.

If you are an employer, we offer HR training and consultancy in a number of areas such as managing suspensions, undertaking disciplinary investigations, or support on how to handle a disciplinary hearing effectively. In addition to HR support, we have expertise in assisting clients to defend Employment Tribunal Claims.

To discuss your needs, and the ways in which we can help, call us on 020 3923 8616 or email us at info@plotkinandchandler.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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