Did you know that suspension is not always the appropriate response to an allegation of misconduct?
Did you know that suspension is designed to be a neutral act? That means it is not something that should automatically happen when an employee is accused of doing something wrong.
The outcome of a recent case was that the suspension of a teacher was not a neutral act and did amount to a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. This means that the Employer conducted itself in a manner which seriously damaged the relationship between it and the Teacher.
In this case, a teacher was suspended because of the force she used with two children. The teacher had not been asked for her response to the allegations prior to the suspension and there was no evidence that her employer had considered any alternative to suspension such as redeployment or not working with those particular children for example. In response to the suspension, the teacher resigned the same day.
The Court found that suspension, in this case, was not a neutral act. The Court took into account the statutory guidance for local authorities, that suspension must not be the default position. Interestingly in this case the reason given for the suspension was not the protection of children, but to “allow the investigation to be conducted fairly”.
The Court concluded that suspension was adopted as the default position, and was a knee-jerk reaction, and amounted to a fundamental breach of contract. This was strengthened by the teacher’s hostile resignation.
What does this mean for you?
We have provided you with a handy checklist of things to do:
ü Check your policy on suspension
ü Always give consideration whether suspension is actually required
ü Think carefully about the reasons for suspension
ü Clearly set out in writing the reasons for the suspension
ü Do not adopt suspension as the default position as soon as a disciplinary issue arises
If after reading this note, suspension is causing you a concern, or if you would like us to review your policy or provide training in relation to disciplinary including suspension, please get in touch.
Our top tip!
Always consider whether suspension is appropriate in the circumstances and follow your policy!