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Do you know how to handle suspension?
The news this week has reported that the controversial presenter and journalist Jeremy Clarkson has allegedly behaved in a way that has led to his suspension by the BBC, to allow for time for the corporation to investigate its concerns. Article
Having dealt with a number of employees who have been suspended pending an investigation, I know how important it is for the employer to deal with suspension promptly and in the correct way.
In normal circumstances, employees may face suspension for a period that gives adequate time for the employer to conduct an investigation into the alleged action or misconduct, and then decide whether or not there is enough evidence to take further action.
A host of problems
On occasion, however, the investigations can be delayed, which can create a host of problems for the business, such as covering rotas and shortage of staff. Normally, when suspending an employee it means paying them even though they aren’t attending work. Though your employee’s salary may not be as much as that of Jeremy Clarkson, this could still cause difficulties.
If you are required to suspend an employee from the workplace, these steps should assist you with the process:
- Consider whether you have sufficient grounds to suspend the employee.
- Suspending an employee will normally mean they receive full pay. Check the contract of employment to see if suspension without pay is an option.
- Don’t suspend an employee in the heat of the moment or as a punishment. Some employers have been known to adopt this approach, and have then had to invite the employee back to work with a rather red face once they have calmed down.
- Conduct an investigation into the concerns; this is also known as a fact-finding exercise. You need to have all the facts before considering whether disciplinary action is appropriate.
- Consider whether that person is a threat to other employees and the business; that may further justify suspension.
- Deal with the investigation in a timely manner, so that if there is no cause for action the employee can return to work - lessening the risk of a Constructive Dismissal claim.
Remember, suspension should only be used whilst you are investigating an incident where there is a potential case for gross misconduct or other serious misconduct. Use this option wisely.
Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor