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New ACAS guidelines - what you need to know about suspending employees from work

Suspension should not be a knee jerk reaction for an employer when dealing with a potential disciplinary matter. ACAS has published new guidance in relation to suspending employees. It is not binding but should be adhered to as a matter of good practice.

Alternatives should be considered where possible. These include:

  • Moving an employee to a different area of the workplace;
  • Allowing an employee to work from home;
  • Changing their working hours;
  • Placing an employee on restricted duties; and
  • Working under supervision.

The ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance must be followed when dealing with a disciplinary situation.

Where suspension with pay is necessary, the period should be (1) as brief as possible, and (2) kept under review (failure to do so could amount to a breach of an implied term of mutual trust and confidence and could be grounds for constructive dismissal).

What are the main points in the new ACAS guidelines?

  • Suspension must not be used as a disciplinary sanction and an employee should receive full pay during any period of suspension.
  • Suspension should be used when there is a serious allegation of misconduct; when there are medical grounds requiring this or there is a new workplace risk to an employee who is a new or an expectant mother.
  • There should be no assumption of guilt.
  • The suspension and the reason for it should be kept confidential. It may be necessary to discuss with the employee how their absence from the workplace could be explained to their colleagues or customers.
  • The guidance outlines the information that should be included in a suspension letter.
  • The employee should receive full pay during any period of suspension.
  • The suspension should only be for as long as it is still necessary.
  • Employers should keep in touch with employees and they should be supported during this time. They should have a point of contact at the workplace to discuss any concerns.
  • A return to work meeting is recommended for the employee’s first day back after suspension.

How We Can Help

The guidance can be found here.

If you feel that you need some advice before you suspend an employee, please contact our Employment Law team on 01245 890110 or by email at [email protected].

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