November 17, 2022
ACAS have provided updated advice for employers who are considering suspending an employee. Suspension is when an employer tells an employee to temporarily stop working whilst an investigation or disciplinary is carried out. Here are 5 key principles to take from the new guidance:
- Consider if suspension is needed
- Consider alternatives to suspension
- Keep it confidential
- Keep the employee informed and supported
- Pay during suspension
Is suspension needed?
An employer should only suspend an employee if they believe it is needed in order to protect an investigation, the business, other staff or the individual being investigated.
Are there alternatives to suspension?
An employer should avoid suspension where possible. An employer could temporarily change an employee’s shift, different office/site, work in a different department, work from home, working away from customers, stop completing certain tasks or using certain equipment as an alternative to suspension.
It is important that everyone involved keeps the suspension confidential. It should be made clear what will be told to other employees, who the suspended employee can talk to and for what purpose. It is important that an employer allows the suspended employee to make arrangements for a colleague to attend any meetings as their companion whether you allow this as direct contact or through the business. An employer should not share any personal information unless necessary in line with data protection law.
Is your employee fully informed and supported?
An employee should be told as soon as you have made the decision to suspend them. It is advised that they are provided with the following information:
- The reason for suspension
- The next steps
- How long suspension is likely to last
- what they can/cannot do during suspension
- the support that is availability to them – internal and external such as a business’s employee assistance programme or referring to mental health organisations
What should be paid during suspension?
A suspended employee should continue to receive their usual pay including any benefits in their contract. If an employer reduces or stops pay during suspension, then this can lead to legal action regardless of if their contract allows for unpaid suspension.
The full guidance can be accessed using the following link: Deciding whether to suspend someone: Suspension during an investigation at work - Acas