New ACAS guidance on suspending staff
New guidance was published by ACAS at the beginning of September to assist employers who are considering suspending staff, specifically during an investigation procedure.
The guidance explains the considerations employers should have when deciding to suspend someone including the process for suspension, how to support an employee’s mental health during a period of suspension and pay.
The guidance states that suspension should only be used when it is reasonable in the circumstances for dealing with the situation (such as the need to protect evidence or witnesses for example). It states that suspension should only be used when there are no appropriate alternatives. Each situation for suspension should be considered carefully by the employer on its own facts, not because they have suspended someone previously for a similar conduct issue for example.
The guidance suggests some alternatives to suspension as follows:
- Changing shifts or working from home.
- Working away from customers.
- Stopping the employee working with certain tools or carrying out specific tasks.
The guidance also covers what to do in situations where an external body is investigating and what to do if an employee does not agree with an employer’s decision to suspend.
The guidance also specifically deals with the pay employees should receive during any period of suspension and what to do if an employee requests holiday as well.
Employers who are considering suspending an employee, should do so as a last resort after careful consideration of the facts of any case. Employees should be clearly told the reason for suspension and ideally this should be communicated to the employee in person. The employer should communicate that the decision to suspend does not mean that a decision as to their conduct has been made.