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Legitimate and justifiable suspension

In the recent case of The Mayor & Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth v Simone Agoreyo, the Court of Appeal determined that if an employer suspends an employee, it must consider whether suspension  ruins or destructs the rapport of trust and confidence.

Employers may want to look at the following when thinking of suspending an employee:

  1. The reason for suspension and whether there are other possible options

In the case, it was established that suspending an employee should not be the automatic response. The employer should not presume suspension to be mandatory, even if the poor behaviour of the employee is severe. This is to ensure that defenceless people are safeguarded and to ensure the situation is properly reviewed with inquires being undertaken.

The employer needs to think about the danger to defenceless people, or the danger of causing the inquiry to be illegitimate. To reduce the danger, suspension is not always the answer. For example, an employee could be relocated so that they cannot communicate with those involved in the inquiry.

  1. Find out the employee’s version of events before suspending

Prior to making any decisions to suspend an employee, it is crucial that the employer obtains the employee’s reasons for their behaviour.

  1. Can the employer suspend under the contract and must steps be followed?

The employer must check whether there is a policy in place stating the requirements of suspension. The employer should also consider if they must follow statutory guidance, for example, in schools.

  1. Length of suspension

The suspension should be as short as required based on the reason for suspending the employee. The employer should revisit the suspension regularly too.

  1. Documenting and corresponding the outcome to suspend

If suspension is the chosen outcome, the employer should document this decision and the reasons for reaching this outcome. The employee must receive correspondence in writing of the decision and the reasons for the decision. The employer needs to set out that suspension is not permanent, that it is not a consequence of a disciplinary, and that guilt is not presumed.