New Acas Guidance: Staff Suspensions

Published: September 21st, 2022

5 min

A suspension occurs when an employer tells an employee to stop carrying out work temporarily, and Acas has recently published new advice on how to approach this (https://www.acas.org.uk/suspension-during-an-investigation; https://www.acas.org.uk/acas-publishes-new-advice-on-staff-suspensions-at-work).

Suspension is a neutral act, does not imply wrongdoing, and should not be used as a sanction. Whilst an employee is suspended, they must still maintain their pay and benefits, and whilst most often used pre-investigation or at the outset of an investigation, suspension can still be considered later on if circumstances change.

The advice issued from Acas is that suspension should only be used in the most serious circumstances, and where there are no alternatives to ensure the protection of an investigation, the organisation, other employees, or the suspended employee. The following (non-exhaustive) alternatives should therefore be considered before the suspension of an employee:

  • change in shift patterns

  • work in a different part of the organisation

  • work from home

  • work from a different office or site

  • stop doing part of their job - for example, the employee could stop handling stock if the investigation is in respect of stock going missing

  • work with different customers, or away from customers - for example, if the investigation is in respect of a customer complaint

  • stop using a specific system or tool - for example, removing access to the organisation's finance system if the investigation is in respect of a large amount of missing money

Whilst suspension should be used as a last resort, there are circumstances where suspension is the appropriate action, though it is important that employers consider each particular situation carefully and on a case-by-case basis before coming to a decision. Employers should ensure that the reasoning for any suspension remains confidential and should also discuss with the employee as to what they will tell other staff regarding the change.

Any suspension should always be kept under regular review and be kept as short as possible, and any suspended employee should be advised of their point of contact and what support is available to them, for example through any employee wellbeing programme.

For any further information please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Forbes Employment Team.

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