An employer may decide to suspend an employee temporarily from work if they are involved in a disciplinary situation, or for maternity or medical reasons. Usually an employee who is suspended is entitled to their normal pay during their suspension.
Employers have a duty to carry out a Risk Assessment for a pregnant employee to check and control any risks to the mother and her unborn child. If the risk assessment shows any specific risks that cannot be avoided and no changes to the workload or workplace, the employee may be suspended from work on full pay to protect her and her unborn child.
Sometimes an employer has the right to suspend an employee from work on medical grounds where the workplace surroundings or the role they perform puts their health at risk. The employee is then entitled to be paid for a period not over 26 weeks, as long as they have already been employed there for at least one month and as long as they are available to return to work and have not unreasonably refused any offer of other suitable work.
Someone facing possible disciplinary action may be suspended for a period of time so that the employer can investigate the alleged misconduct. Employers should be very careful about deciding to suspend someone in this situation. They should consider first if it would be possible to allow the employee to take a period of annual leave or other absence. It may also be better to transfer the individual temporarily to another part of the organisation.
Alternative to dismissal (disciplinary penalty)
Employers may decide to suspend someone temporarily without pay instead of dismissing them completely. Employers need to make sure they have a contractual right to suspend without pay. If they don’t have that right written in the contract of employment, they could face a Breach of Contract claim.