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07 October 2017

What must employers consider before suspending an employee?

We’ve previously warned employers of making knee-jerk reactions to suspending employees and a recent case now shows the consequences.

An employee (a teacher) was suspended after facing allegations of using unnecessary force to ensure behavioural compliance of two difficult pupils, despite having been investigated over two previous incidents and cleared for any disciplinary action.

Furthermore, several days before the suspension, the school told the employee that a scheme of support would be put in place to assist her with the two pupils in question.

The High Court found that the suspension of the employee was a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.

Employers should consider several points before suspending an employee:

  • How serious are the allegations and do they warrant a suspension?
  • Should further investigations be conducted?
  • What are the risks of the employee remaining at work (both to the employer and the investigation)?
  • What is the employee’s employment history in respect of disciplinary action in the past and their length of service?
  • Are there any alternatives to the suspension?

The High Court warned that employers should avoid using suspension as a “knee-jerk” reaction and should properly consider all options before suspending an employee.

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