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Suspension

There may be occasions where suspension from work with pay is needed while an investigation is carried out. For example, in potential gross misconduct cases, where there are health and safety concerns or where there are risks to you or our property, to service users or our responsibilities to other parties. 

It may also be considered where it is reasonable to believe that evidence has been tampered with, destroyed or witnesses pressurised during the investigation process or prior to the disciplinary hearing.

If you are suspended from work you should be aware that this is not a disciplinary action.

It will be in your and our best interests to progress the investigation and disciplinary hearing (if appropriate) as quickly as possible. 

Any suspension will be kept under review. (NB: in some cases, a suspension review will have to take into account the requirements of professional codes and standards governing children, young people and adults who are vulnerable).

Before deciding to suspend we will consider the following factors:

  1. Seriousness of the allegations relating to you
  2. The need to preserve the integrity of the investigation
  3. Your best interest if allegations are made against you.
  4. Our best interests and those of your colleagues, the public and/or our service users
  5. Consistency in applying suspension in other cases where similar allegations have been made in the past

Following these considerations your manager must decide whether a transfer to another area of work or team would be appropriate as an alternative to suspension.

Prior to any suspension being implemented, your manager must consult his/her Head of Service and seek advice from the HR Team.

Step 1: Allegation/complaint received

Consider:

Seriousness of the allegations relating to the individual:

  • Is there a possibility that the allegation would amount to gross misconduct in accordance with the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure?

The need to preserve the integrity of the investigation

  • Is there a risk that possible evidence could be accessed/amended or contaminated?

The best interests of the individual against whom the allegation is made.

  • Is there a risk that in their current position the individual would be subjected to further allegations? 

The best interests of the authority, other employees, members of the public or service users.

  • Is there a risk of that the complaint/incident being alleged could continue. Is there a recommendation by adult/child protection officers? Is there police/ audit involvement?

Consistency with former similar allegations

  • Seek advice from People Management and Performance HR Team to ensure that as an authority we are applying a consistent approach.

Step 2: Transfer

Following these considerations you must then decide whether a transfer to another area of work or team would be appropriate. In doing so you should consider:

  • That the employee will not be in regular contact with any witnesses/complainants in the new location.
  • That the Role is achievable at the proposed location.
  • That any temporary restrictions on duties imposed are realistic.
  • That the Employee has access to the necessary support.

In order to implement a change such as this it will inevitably be necessary for you to liaise with other teams in order to achieve this. This should be managed sensitively and confidentially.

A Liaison Officer should still be appointed where a transfer has taken place.

Step 3: Suspension

  • People Management and Performance HR Team has been informed
  • Head of Service has been informed
  • Employee is informed. This will normally be undertaken by the Line Manager or nominated officer if the Manager is not available. Due to the nature of the suspension meeting being called without notice the employee would not normally have the opportunity to arrange representation of the following:
    • Explain an allegation/complaint has been received and explain what this is in relation to, ...................(complainants/ service users identities will need to be protected during this explanation). If this is also being investigated in accordance with ISA regulations or by the Police you will need to advise the employee of this, unless the Police have requested otherwise. Also explain that the investigation is taking place in accordance with the authorities Disciplinary Procedures.
    • If you are unable to outline the complaint in detail at due to Police/Safegaurding investigation please advise this.
    • explain to the employee that they will be suspended on full pay and that this is not intended as a punishment, but as a measure to protect the parties involved.
    • please advise the employee that this matter is confidential and not to approach any other employees regarding the allegation.
    • Advise they will be contacted in writing no later that 3 working days following the meeting with details of the terms of suspension.
    • Advise the employee they will shortly be given access to a liaison officer who will be their point of contact with the authority.
    • Please assist the employee to collect any of their personal belongings, ensuring that they leave the premises.
  • Identify an appropriate liaison officer make sure they are aware they will be contacted.
  • Follow up the suspension with a letter, sent recorded in a windowless envelope marked Private and Confidential.
  • Identify an investigating Officer.

Your manager will follow the procedure below when a decision to suspend has been agreed:

  1. meet with you to let you know the reason for suspension;
  2. clearly explain the allegation but will not go into any further detail;
  3. explain what happens next and refer you to the relevant HR policy and procedure);
  4. advise you that:
    • you are not permitted to enter your workplace or any of the Council’s premises specified or service users homes during the period of your suspension without prior consent from the Investigating Officer;
    • if you wish to contact your work colleagues during your suspension you must first get the consent of the Investigating Officer. The Investigating Officer will need to be satisfied that you have fair grounds for your request and that your contact will not interfere with the investigation. If you do not seek consent this may result in further disciplinary action being taken;
    • your suspension from work is a neutral act and is, either to protect you or service users, members of the public or your colleagues, so an investigation can be carried out;
    • you must be available during your normal working hours for the Investigating Officer to interview you. You should go out of the local area or go on holiday whilst suspended without the consent of the Investigating Officer;
    • A Liaison Officer (usually a work colleague) will be asked to be your main contact point during your suspension;
    • Finally, but most importantly if you need support from occupational health a referral can be arranged via your Liaison Officer or your Manager.

When the suspension meeting has finished your manager will help you gather your personal belongings and accompany you from the premises.

Your manager will confirm the details of your suspension in writing within 3 working days following the suspension. A copy of this letter will be sent to the HR Team and retained on your personnel file

Please see Appendix 2 – Employee Guidance, which will be enclosed with your letter.

If you are a trade union member your manager will send a copy of the suspension letter to your local branch office, unless you advise otherwise, in writing.

If you are a trade union representative a member of the HR team will inform the full time trade union official of the allegation(s) via the local branch.

Your manager will identify a Liaison Officer to provide impartial support and maintain regular contact with you at least fortnightly. The Liaison Officer will not be involved in the investigation and will keep a record of any visits and contacts with you during the suspension.

The Investigating Officer is responsible for planning and preparing the investigation in line with the Investigation Policy.

The Investigating Officer will review the suspension decision and the terms of the suspension at key stages of the investigation. The Investigating Officer will write to you, usually fortnightly or at agreed dates during the investigation and confirm the progress of the investigation.

In some circumstances, where the police, adult/child protection or internal/external audit, are conducting an investigation at the same time, it may not be possible to progress a management investigation until evidence has been presented to the courts. However, you will still be kept informed of our actions during this period.

You will be paid normal contractual pay during your suspension and an explanation of how this is calculated will be included in your suspension letter.

If you are sick during your suspension you are required to notify your sickness in the normal way in line with our Sickness Absence Policy. The period of sickness absence will be recorded and appropriate sick pay will apply.

If you start maternity leave during your suspension you are required to notify the start of your maternity leave in the normal way in line with our Maternity Policy. The period of maternity will be recorded and appropriate maternity pay will apply.

You will continue to accrue annual leave during your suspension during you annual leave year. You should continue to request annual leave during your suspension in line with the normal procedure while suspended as this entitlement will not be carried forward to the following leave year.

Where there is any doubt over your fitness to work your manager must seek advice from an Occupational Health and HR Advisor before a decision to suspend is made, in line with our Sickness Absence Policy.

Before returning to work following medical suspension you will be referred to the Occupational Health Unit and expected to co-operate fully with any request to attend a health assessment.

This protocol must be applied consistently to all employees irrespective of race, colour, ethnic or national origins (including citizenship), language, disability, religion, belief or non belief, age, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, parental or marital/civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity.

If you have any equality and diversity concerns in relation to the application of this protocol, please contact a member of the HR Team who will, if necessary, ensure the policy/procedure is reviewed accordingly

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Page updated: 26/03/2018 09:28:47