The number of times I trembled when I heard the word “Suspension” from the School assembly is the reason I grew up so afraid of being suspended. Running meters away from any wrongful act that may lead to suspension was the best act in school. Well, several years later, there are still employees with the same thinking in the workplace. Whenever an employee faces suspension, it always feels like the end of their jobs.

Suspension is when an employee is sent home from work (usually by a letter) while receiving full pay following an ongoing investigation. Employers are entitled to suspend an employee pending an investigation of gross misconduct or other disciplinary severe matter. The right to suspend will usually be set out in employees’ contract of employment or the staff handbook (if any). While a suspension is not a disciplinary action by itself, it often leads to disciplinary proceedings.

An employee may be suspended on full pay pending finalisation of an investigation, where the presence of the employee at the workplace may jeopardise an investigation or poses a threat to the wellbeing of employees. A suspension is not a disciplinary sanction.

Suspension occurs where there are serious allegations of misconduct/ incapacity. An employer may suspend an employee on full remuneration while the allegations are investigated and pending further disciplinary action.

The employee suspended shall be given a written letter of suspension, setting out the reason for the suspension and any terms required during the suspension period.

The reasons for the employee’s suspension may be among the following:

  • The employee’s presence at work may obstruct the investigation processes;
  • To highlight the seriousness of the matter;
  • To stop the employee carrying on the gross misconduct that is being alleged;
  • The employee’s ongoing performance of work duties may present a problem while the investigation takes place;
  • To stop the employee interacting with other employees or clients/customers of the employer, which may otherwise cause a detrimental effect on the business;
  • To enable the employer to investigate a disciplinary matter without hindrance from the employee.

If an employee faces suspension, below are the necessary information they should know about the circumstances of their suspension:

  1. Find why they are facing suspension and how long will the suspension take. It should be remembered that suspension takes place to leave room for investigation, but it is the employee’s right to inquire on how long the suspension will take. Such may not always be informed in the suspension letter, but an employee may keep asking as the suspension period proceeds. The labour laws provide that the period of suspension should be reasonable, taking into consideration how long the investigation and the decision on any further action may take.
  2. There may be actions the Employee need to take during the Suspension. The suspension letter should provide measures that the employee needs to perform during the Suspension period. I.e. Note, however, that the employee will be required to sign the attendance register at the offices twice a week (every Monday & Friday). The employee may not leave (the district they reside) without prior authorisation from your supervisor.

Please note that an employee charged with a criminal offence may be suspended on full remuneration pending a final determination by a court and any appeal to it, on that charge.

FAQ

What happens during suspension? Can I take annual leave?
In a different circumstance, an employee can take a holiday during the period of suspension. However, the purpose of suspension is to allow a reasonable investigation to take place (during which, it may be expected that the employee attends a disciplinary hearing). Therefore, it is not recommended that an employee take annual leave throughout the entirety of their suspension.

Can the Suspended Employee Communicate with staff/suppliers?
Talking to employees, customers or suppliers when depends on the circumstances of your suspension and instructions to that. There may be circumstances where an employee is well informed not to communicate with other employees to leave room for active investigation.

Will I still be paid if my Suspension lasts longer than two weeks?
During the whole period of suspension, employees should receive their full pay and benefits. Such may change if the employee is not willing to follow their suspension instructions or there is a clear contractual right for an employer to suspend without pay or benefits.

What if I’m sick during my suspension?
Employees may be required during Suspension to attend to work and sign the registry at least two times a week. In circumstances where the employee is sick and fails to attend during these days, then the work procedures followed under the sick leave will be the same used in this circumstance. I.e. On your next attendance, you may be required to show proof of sickness.
If a suspended employee is ill and is not able to attend work again when required, then the laws regarding sick leave shall be regarded.

Does suspension from work mean you are Terminated?
Suspension from work is the temporary removal of an employee from performing his/her work duties as a disciplinary measure. You are suspended so as the investigation process can proceed smoothly and you may be reached to provide details as well. In no circumstance does suspension mean termination.

Can you resign during your suspension?
Any employee has the right to resign their position, subject to complying with the notice requirements in their contract, at any time. However, if you resign without meeting with your contractual obligations, during disciplinary proceedings, the employer may not accept the resignation.
If you believe that you are likely to be dismissed, you may be better to resign now and seek alternative employment.

You should consider that, if, at all the misconduct regards to a Criminal Offence (theft), the employer may open a Criminal Offence Charge against you even after you leave the Company.

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