If you are considering the suspension of an employee, please contact your local People and Change Manager for advice prior to making your decision. Refer to the Contact List.
Suspension is a neutral act and not a disciplinary measure, but can cause concern to both the employee and the team in which they work. As such, it should not be used without very careful consideration, and generally with advice from People and Change Managers/ Heads of People and Change and Senior Management authorisation.
The purpose of suspension is to enable a full and fair investigation to take place.
Where an individual needs to be removed from their normal duties/workplace, to enable an investigation to take place, consideration should be given to restriction of duties or a temporary work location as alternatives to suspension.
It is essential to ensure that the suspension period is kept to a minimum and regularly reviewed. Failure to do so can result in additional stress and anxiety being incurred by the suspended employee.
The following situations provide examples where suspension might be used:
Where a disciplinary offence is alleged to have taken place and an investigation is required and the person against whom allegations have been made could be seen to either interfere with or influence an investigation if they were at work.
Where it is suspected that an individual is under the influence of either alcohol or drugs it would be inappropriate for a manager to attempt to investigate the circumstances immediately. Therefore suspension may be a short term measure to remove the employee from the workplace. In these circumstances the manager should arrange to meet with the employee for a fact finding discussion as soon as possible thereafter and consideration may then be given to extending the suspension until the conclusion of a formal investigation.
Where a manager feels that an individual is unfit for duty and that they may be a danger to patients, themselves or to others and believes it is in everyone’s best interest then suspension on medical grounds should take place with an urgent referral to the Occupational Health Service.
Points to Consider:
- Notification of suspension should be delivered in person, normally by the employee’s line manager. The employee should be advised of the grounds and terms of the suspension, which should also be confirmed in writing by the suspending manager within 5 days of the suspension taking place. Security items, e.g. keys, must be handed in at this point.
- It may be that the suspension has to be communicated to an employee who is working outside of normal working hours, e.g. nightshift, weekends. In this instance, the employee’s line manager, or an appointed deputy manager will attend the workplace as soon as possible to meet with the employee on site and give the employee the opportunity to be accompanied by a Trade Union/Professional Organisation Representative or a colleague, friend or relative not acting in a legal capacity.
- Temporarily transferring the member of staff to another work location should be considered as an alternative to suspension if the alleged conduct issue is not deemed a risk to patients or other employees.
- In cases of suspected gross misconduct, lack of suspension may suggest the offence was not regarded as serious and this may weaken management’s case later if it should go to an Employment Tribunal. However, suspension should not be an automatic response in these circumstances and the merits of suspension must be considered.
- Suspension can lead to a feeling of isolation for the individual, particularly as they are cut off from their colleagues. Also there may be delays in the investigation and this can cause additional anxiety. Managers should be aware of this and where possible advise the individual of the support available, e.g. staff representation, employee counselling through the Occupational Health Service. A neutral person who is not involved in the case; i.e. another manager will be allocated as a named contact for the employee. The contact person will be named and their telephone number will be detailed on the suspension letter. The purpose of the named contact is to provide support to the member of staff i.e. with updates on the progress of the investigation and for the staff member to communicate with i.e. attendance at NHS premises; planned holidays etc.
- The Manager must ensure that the relevant Director is aware of the suspension when appropriate.
- If a suspension is to continue for more than 4 weeks then the employee should be advised of this either during the course of the investigation or in writing by the manager commissioning the investigation. The letter should confirm the continued suspension and giving reasons for any delay in bringing the process to an end.
- Employees who are suspended should not work on the bank and should be advised of this when informed of their suspension.
- During suspension, the employee must be available during normal working hours to receive telephone calls or attend meetings. If telephone messages are left, it is expected that the employee will return the call within 24 hours.
- If the employee is not going to be available due to a pre-booked holiday or some other reason, they should seek authorisation for the leave from their line manager or through the named contact person, whichever is more appropriate. In these circumstances, suspension would end temporarily for the period of annual leave and resume thereafter as the employee is unavailable to engage in the formal process during any period of authorised leave.
- If it is decided that a suspension should be concluded prior to the end of an investigation, due to reasons determined during the investigation, the employee should be issued with a letter ending the suspension and returning them to the workplace, with support as appropriate.
- If an employee becomes ill during the period of suspension, the employee should revert from suspension to sick leave. However the rules associated with suspension would continue to apply and the employee would revert back to suspension on expiry of sick leave if the investigatory process is still ongoing. The suspending manager should write to the employee to confirm this at the earliest opportunity.