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ACAS has published new guidance for employers in relation to suspending employees from work.

Although the guidance is not binding it is recommended that employers follow it.

The main points to consider in the guidance are as follows:

  • An employer should only consider suspension from work where there is:
    • a serious allegation of misconduct
    • medical grounds to suspend
    • a workplace risk to an employee who is a new or expectant mother.
  • Suspension should not be an automatic approach for an employer when dealing with a disciplinary matter. Most disciplinary procedures will not require suspension. An employee will usually be able to continue during their normal role whilst matters are investigated.
  • An employer considering suspending an employee should consider all options. In circumstances where there are reasons to consider suspension, temporary adjustments to the employee’s working arrangements may remove the need to suspend the employee.
  • There should be no assumption of guilt associated with a suspension and suspension must not be used as a disciplinary sanction. If suspension is necessary, the reason for the suspension should be kept confidential.
  • The guidance provides details on what should be included in a suspension letter for example the reasons for the suspension and how long it is expected to last.
  • An employee should usually receive full pay during a period of suspension.
  • A period of suspension should be kept as brief as possible and regularly reviewed to ensure that is necessary. The employee should be kept updated about their suspension, the ongoing reasons for it and how long it is likely to last.

Employers should suspend with caution. Whilst the ACAS Guidelines are just that: guidelines. However, these guidelines come on the back of a number of cases where employees have challenged suspensions on the basis that the mere fact of suspension had made continuing employment impossible where there is an impact on reputation. Ill-considered suspensions can lead to a breach of contract particularly if there is no contractual right to suspend. Advice is recommended in these situations.

If you'd like further information on anything mentioned in this article, please contact Gareth Dando on 01484 558 060 or email gareth.dando@ramsdens.co.uk.