Suspension can follow a disciplinary allegation like night follows day. However tempting to protect or appease a complainant, a knee-jerk reaction is a dangerous move. Though touted as a neutral act, suspension can feel like a sanction unless matters are handled very carefully.

The aim of a suspension is to aid the process of investigating disciplinary allegations as quickly as possible. Suspension may be essential in some cases but can taint an employee’s reputation, especially where the alleged misconduct may be career ending if found to be true. Other less draconian steps should always be considered before deploying the ultimate weapon.

Suspension can be a blunt instrument if used without care. Employers must remember that there are other tools in the box which may be better for the job.

Our top tips:

  • Check employment contracts for the contractual right to suspend.

  • Is suspension really necessary? Can a less draconian step, such as a team move or working from home, achieve the same aim?

  • Tell the employee in person about any suspension, offering a companion, and follow up in writing.

  • Be transparent with the employee about the reasons for suspension and reassure them that it does not pre-judge any outcome.

  • Ensure there is a plan for what clients and colleagues will be told about any absence or team/work moves.

  • Keep it short, keep it confidential, and keep in touch.