The conciliation service, ACAS, has published new advice on how employers should handle the suspension of a member of staff. That is, a situation in which they stop an employee from carrying out work on a temporary basis.

ACAS emphasises that employers must consider each situation carefully and only use suspension in circumstances where there are no alternatives. These could include the need to carry out an urgent investigation and/or to protect an employee’s health and safety.

Rather than moving to suspension as a first option, therefore, ACAS recommends that employers carry out an initial investigation into what happened, who was involved and the seriousness of the situation.

It also suggests alternative options to suspension, such as:

  • Re-arranging the shift that the member of staff normally works.
  • Moving the employee to work in a different part of the organisation or a different office or site.
  • Allowing the employee to work from home
  • Limiting the person’s work - for example, if the investigation is concerned with stock going missing, the employer could stop the staff member from handling stock.
  • Working with different customers or away from customers – for example, if the employer is investigating a serious complaint from a customer.
  • Stopping the individual from using a specific system or tool – for example removing access to the organisation's finance system if the employer is investigating money that has gone missing.

Whatever the reason, employers should ensure that it remains confidential wherever possible. This might include discussing with the employee what they will tell others at work about the temporary change.

It is important to note that suspension does not mean an employee has done anything wrong and should not, therefore, be used to discipline staff.

To read the advice in more detail, click here.