Acas publishes new guidance on staff suspensions
Acas has published new guidance for employers on how to consider and handle staff suspensions at work, specifically during investigations.
The guidance covers the decision to suspend and the process to follow, as well as how to support an employee's mental health during suspension and what happens to pay and holiday.
The guidance stresses that a suspension should only be used when it is a reasonable way of dealing with the situation and there are no appropriate alternatives (for instance while an investigation is carried out and there is a need to protect evidence, witnesses, the business, other staff or the person being investigated). Alternatives to suspension include:
- Changing shifts, site or working from home.
- Working with different customers or away from customers.
- Stopping working with certain systems, tools or on specific tasks.
The reason for any temporary change should be kept confidential wherever possible, and the employer should discuss with the employee what they will tell others at work about the temporary change.
Acas states that employers should support a suspended worker by explaining the reason for the suspension and making it clear that it does not mean that it has been decided that they have done anything wrong. Pay and benefits should be maintained and the suspension should be kept as short as possible (as well as confidential if that's possible). Regular contact should be maintained throughout.
It will be good practice to allow an employee to be accompanied at any suspension meeting, and for the suspension to be confirmed in writing.