It is quite common to suspend an employee who is accused of something which amounts to gross misconduct, to allow an investigation to take place. However, a recent ruling has found that suspending an employee is not a neutral act and could potentially be a breach of contract.
In Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth  the employee was a school teacher who was accused of using unnecessary force when managing some difficult children. She was suspended without being asked for her response to the allegations, and without any alternative to suspension being considered. She resigned the same day, and successfully claimed constructive dismissal. She argued that the suspension was a breach of mutual trust and confidence. The High Court ruled that suspension was not a neutral act and should not be an automatic reaction to a potential disciplinary situation and, in this case, it was a breach of contract.
- This case does not mean that you cannot suspend an employee when managing a disciplinary situation. However, it does mean that you should think first to decide whether it is necessary to suspend.
- Review your disciplinary procedure to make it clear that suspension is not an automatic step, and that there should be some thought about whether it is necessary.
- If you do suspend an employee always explain to him/her why you have decided that it is necessary to take that step, and reassure the employee that no decision will be made about a disciplinary sanction until after the disciplinary hearing.
- Keep any suspension as short as possible.
If you need help and advice in suspending an employee and making sure you follow the correct employee suspension procedure then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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