Suspension From Work
You may want to learn about your suspension rights if you’ve been suspended from work or threatened with it.
If so, read our guide on your suspension rights below.
You can also read more about our charges.
What Does it Mean if I am Suspended From Work?
Being suspended from work means your employer has notified you that you’re prohibited from accessing your workplace. Furthermore, Whilst suspended, you remain employed but will be asked not to attend your workplace or engage in any work. The reason for suspension is usually to enable an investigation to take place.
Workplace suspensions are disciplinary procedures found in the employer’s terms or work rules, which may form part of the contract. However, a suspension could still occur even if your employment contract doesn’t contain the right to suspend. This is because it will likely be deemed reasonable if there’s a sufficient reason and you won’t suffer a detriment.
If you’ve been wrongfully suspended without pay, you may be able to claim damages for unpaid wages (Hanley v Pease & Partners ).
Why Have I Been Suspended?
There could be several reasons why your employer may want to suspend you from work. The most common reason is to conduct disciplinary procedures, although there may be other reasons, including:
- To prevent you from continuing the alleged gross misconduct
- You posing a potential threat to the business or other employees
- To allow your employer to investigate the potential disciplinary matter without interference
- Your job posing a risk to your health and safety
- To prevent you from interacting with other employees or clients of the business
- If you are pregnant and your employer cannot provide you with a reasonable and safe alternative job
How Should I be Suspended?
If suspension from work is deemed to be necessary, you should be provided with a work suspension letter that includes:
- Why you are being suspended and how long it is expected to last
- Your rights and responsibilities during the work suspension (such as being contactable during normal working hours)
- Your point of contact and their contact details (such as your line manager or HR person)
- That the purpose of your suspension from work is to investigate the matter and is not an automatic assumption of guilt
Will I get Paid Whilst I am Suspended From Work?
You will normally receive full pay while suspended, but this can depend on your employment contract or work policy. It may also depend on the timing of your suspension. If, for instance, you were off work on statutory sick pay (SSP), you are likely only entitled to this during your suspension. However, this may be open to challenge if you become sick during a period of suspension.
Your employment contract could give you the right to full pay during your suspension. If so, you may be able to claim unlawful deductions from wages if your employer only pays SSP.
Generally, employers will suspend employees on full pay to ensure it’s not seen as punishment. This is to prevent accusations that the disciplinary procedure was unfair. You may have been unfairly suspended from work if you aren’t suspended on full pay.
How Long Will I be Suspended for?
The duration of your suspension will depend on several factors. This could include the number and availability of witnesses and the amount of information needed for the investigation. Generally, your suspension should be as brief as possible to prevent you from experiencing unnecessary inconvenience. Moreover, your suspension from work should be regularly reviewed to ensure it’s still required.
Also, your employer must follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. You could potentially claim constructive dismissal if suspended without reasonable grounds or for an unreasonably long period to conduct the investigation.
Can I Challenge the Work Suspension?
In some situations, you may be able to challenge your suspension. You could seek clarification about why you’ve been suspended and argue that it’s unreasonable.
Alternatively, you could make a formal challenge against your employer by filing a grievance. However, it’s unlikely that making a grievance would result in your suspension being lifted if it was reasonable. However, it could speed up the process and allow you to gain a resolution much quicker.
In very rare situations, it may be possible for you to apply for an injunction to prevent your suspension. This type of action is very expensive and would generally only be considered where:
- The suspension is in breach of your employment contract
- Your suspension throws doubt on your capability and reputation as a professional in your field
Will I be Able to Contact Other Work Colleagues Whilst Suspended?
Regular contact should be maintained between you and your employer or line manager during your suspension period. Suspended employees need to be supported during this time and be able to discuss any concerns they may have.
However, whether you can communicate with other staff while suspended will usually depend on the terms of your suspension. It’s common for an employer to ask a suspended employee not to contact employees while on suspension. This is to avoid you potentially putting pressure on or influencing your work colleagues, who could be witnesses in the investigation. Furthermore, this helps to maintain confidentiality.
If you fail to observe this request, you could be open to separate disciplinary action. Also, your employer should be reasonable if you wish to contact colleagues as part of your defence or in response to allegations against you.
If you would like to contact a work colleague, you should follow these steps:
- Write to your employer and ask permission to contact the individual
- Explain why contacting the individual is necessary
- Wait for your employer to confirm that you are allowed to contact the individual
Am I Able to go on Holiday if I am Suspended From Work?
If you want to go on holiday during your workplace suspension, you can request annual leave as usual. However, your employer may have reasonable grounds not to agree to this. This is because suspended employees are generally expected to be contactable and available to attend relevant investigatory or disciplinary meetings. If you booked a holiday before your suspension began, your employer must give sufficient notice before cancelling your leave.
Can my Employer Suspend me on Medical or Pregnancy Grounds?
Your employer can suspend you for medical reasons based on their duty to take reasonable steps to protect your welfare. Furthermore, they may do so if they can’t provide a safe working environment or make suitable arrangements to resolve the problem.
In such cases, your employer can suspend you for up to 26 weeks on full pay if you have worked for over a month. If it goes beyond this period, it will be unpaid. It is important to note that if you refuse alternative suitable work the employer offers, you would lose your right to be paid.
If pregnant, your employer should take reasonable steps to minimise any risks to you and your baby. In these circumstances, the employer should conduct a risk assessment per the HSE’s protecting pregnant workers guidance. If an agreement can’t be reached, your employer can suspend you on full pay for as long as you or your baby remain at risk or in danger.
How we Advise on Suspension From Work
At Redmans, we have vast knowledge and experience in advising employees in this situation.
Suspension from work often leads to disciplinary action, so it’s important to take legal advice before reaching that stage in proceedings. Your reputation and job prospects could be harmed once you’ve been subjected to legal action and had penalties imposed against you. So, if you’ve been unfairly suspended, we can offer expert legal advice. Furthermore, we could advise about a potential severance package and/or negotiate a settlement agreement with your employer if necessary.