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Suspended at work, will I get fired?

 Suspended at work, will I get fired?

 

Are you thinking ‘I have been suspended at work, will I get fired? The short answer is that being suspended at work does not indicate that you will be fired. The investigation may conclude there is no case to answer. If the matter does progress to a disciplinary hearing, it will then be decided what, if anything, the sanction should be.

 

What to do when you are suspended from work

 

Being suspended is something that many of us would find distressing. After all, everything is in a state of flux: you are removed from your workplace and are unaware of what, or when, things will happen.

 

What to do when you are suspended from work – 7 tips

 

1. Try to stay calm

 

As said above, being suspended from work is understandably distressing. In such circumstances, it is common not to be able to think clearly. When an investigation is being carried out the purpose is to find out what happened. Therefore, it is important to see the investigation as an opportunity to have your say, but to do so in a way that is calm and respectful.

 

2. Seek professional advice

 

When you are suspended from work you are likely to have lots of questions on your mind. Gaining professional advice at an early stage would provide clarity and guidance on next steps. For example, advice on gathering evidence, information about an investigation meeting and how to conduct yourself effectively, as well as the rules that should be followed by an employer to ensure that the process is fair, and advice about what should be done if the situation should escalate to a disciplinary hearing. For more information about investigation meetings at work click the link to see our blog. To find out more about disciplinary hearings view our blog how to be successful at a disciplinary hearing.

3. Review the relevant policy

 

An employer should have a policy relating to the disciplinary process. This documentation often varies depending on the size and resources of the employer. Such a policy may well answer questions such as how long should the investigation take? Can I bring someone with me during the investigation meeting? If so, who?  All parties should be aware of the policy and act in accordance with it. If the policy has not been provided at the outset, it may well be sensible to request it.

 

4. Ensure you are aware of the allegations made against you

 

It is important to know the allegations that are being investigated as soon as possible. Knowing precisely what is alleged will make any preparation easier, and will mean that there are no surprises in terms of questions during the investigation.

Details of the allegations should be provided at an early stage, such as in a letter confirming the suspension. Further details of the allegations are likely to be provided in the invitation to the investigation meeting. If you have been suspended, and simply do not know the allegations that have been made against you, an option would be to contact HR, or the person undertaking the investigation, to request this information.

 

5. Gather any relevant information

 

As said above, the purpose of an investigation is to find out what happened and decide whether the matter should be progressed to a disciplinary hearing. As the investigation is a fact-finding exercise, gather any information that would support your case. This can be referred to at your investigation meeting and taken into account by those undertaking the investigation.

 

6. Keep records

 

It is easy to forget exactly what happened when or to recall who said what to whom. Keeping a note of such events means that the account remains accurate and that such information can be located easily if needed.

 

7. Participate fully in the process

 

It may be tempting to not attend the investigation (or potentially a disciplinary hearing at a later stage). That would be a mistake. Such occasions may well be distressing but they provide an opportunity to have your say. If you chose not to participate, the points you would have raised, had you been there, will not be brought to the attention of those undertaking the investigation.

 

How long can you be suspended from work pending investigation?

 

It is common to be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. If the investigation finds that there is no case to answer the suspension will be lifted and the person would return to their duties as normal.

It is not possible to say how long an investigation should take as this would depend on a number of factors such as the number of people involved, the complexity of the issues, the quantity of material to review etc. That being so, the length of time should be that which is reasonable in the circumstances. That said, where an employer has policies in place which specify timeframes relating to investigations these should be followed.

 

Suspended from work pending investigation what are my rights?

 

1. To know the allegations against you

 

As said above, it is vital to know what the allegations are against you. You should be fully aware of all the allegations being made against you and therefore be able to prepare accordingly.

 

2. For the suspension to be a neutral act

 

Being suspended is far from uncommon when allegations have been made and are being investigated. The decision to suspend could be for a number of reasons such as a concern that if the person were to continue working this may risk harm to others, or there is a concern that the person concerned may act in a way which would disrupt the investigation.

The key point here is that a decision to suspend must be reasonable in the particular situation, such as to avoid the issues above. The suspension should not be done in a way which suggests wrongdoing, or which disadvantages the person concerned. For example, during the period of suspension, the person concerned would typically receive full pay.

 

3. To be able to have your say before any decisions are made

 

A person who has been suspended should be given the right to give their version of events before any decisions are made such as the decision to progress the matter to a disciplinary hearing. This is because the account that is given may influence the way in which the investigation develops.

 

4. For the investigation to be dealt with in a reasonable length of time

 

As said above, the suspension (and the associated processes) should be for no longer than is reasonable in the circumstances. Excessive delays are likely to compound the distress of the individual concerned and undermine the process as a whole.

 

5. To be provided with information as soon as possible

 

An employer should provide any relevant information as soon as possible. This is likely to help with any preparation and is necessary to ensure the process is fair.

 

Unfairly suspended from work…?

 

In some circumstances, the handling of the disciplinary process as a whole could be such that it would be appropriate to pursue a claim for constructive dismissal.

 

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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