Labour Research September 2009

Law Queries

Suspension of worker

Q. About a month ago a member found herself placed on suspension pending the results of an investigation into alleged misconduct.

Although she’s receiving full pay, she understandably objects to being forced to stay at home. How can we get her back to work?

A. Can the employer show that it actively considered whether it was necessary to suspend as well as possible alternatives to suspension?

Often large employers hastily suspend individuals, and if challenged, seek to characterise suspension as a neutral act. Suspension is not a neutral act: it stigmatises the individual and prevents them from practising their skills (Mezey v SW London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust [2007] EWCA Civ 106).

Also, even if the employer did consider whether suspension was necessary, did it involve the employee in the decision to suspend and adequately explain why suspension was occurring and unavoidable?

Finally, check on what steps the employer has taken to limit the period of suspension and to review the ongoing need for the individual to be suspended.