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HR Tip – Suspension from work

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.


Q: In what circumstances are we entitled to suspend employees from work, with or without pay?

A: You may suspend someone from work for a reasonable period at any time provided you continue to pay them their normal rate. Commonly, this is done for either of two reasons:

  • First, if an incident has occurred resulting in tempers running high and you wish to allow people time to calm down or you feel it better that they do not meet other employees for a while.
  • Second, if you need to investigate an issue that could lead to disciplinary proceedings and you feel that it would be better to have employees concerned off the site so that they cannot interfere, or be accused of interfering, with the evidence.

Ordinarily, the period of suspension should be no more than a few days. If it were to extend for, say, several weeks the employee might claim that they were not able to practise their skills – which were therefore deteriorating – and that you should either allow them to go back to work or end their contract.

Other reasons for suspension include a pregnant or breastfeeding woman who is in a job that could be hazardous to her and the child and there is no suitable alternative work, and suspension on various health grounds.

You may suspend an employee from work without pay only if the contract clearly allows it. It may say that, if work dries up, the employee will be laid off temporarily without pay. Or your disciplinary procedure may indicate that a brief period of suspension without pay, probably no more than one week, may be imposed as a disciplinary sanction. However, these examples are increasingly rare.

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2 Responses

  1. suspension in nhs

    i have currently been off since being suspended from duty in march16th 09, i think this is too long and have yet to have an interview, my health has deteriorated since this, my union say they can only give advice not support me due to me not being a member for 13weeks.

    all 3 allegations are untrue but i have to defend my innocence 

  2. suspension
    I can think of at least two other good reasons for suspending in a disciplinary situation.
    1 to allow you/ others to calm down so that you neither rush the procedure or make an emotional decision
    2 to warm up the ‘suspendee’ to the prospect of his/her dismissal. In my experience it reinforces the seriousness message and makes a dismissal decision slightly more palatable/less surprising. It also means that a final written warning seems like good news!
    I wrote a list of about 10 reasons a few years ago but have forgotten the rest!

    Peter Stanway

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