What does it mean to be suspended?
A suspension is when you remain employed but are asked to not attend your place of work, or engage in any work at all (such as working from home).
There are two main types of suspension:
- suspension for medical or health and safety reasons;
- suspension as part of a disciplinary procedure (investigation).
Suspension for medical or health and safety reasons
You may be suspended if your job is posing a risk to your health or safety. For example, if you develop an allergic reaction to chemicals you are exposed to while working.
In these situations, your employer can offer you an alternative job that reduces the risk, even if this is not stated in your contract. If this alternative job is reasonable, you cannot choose to be suspended instead.
Length of suspension: You can be suspended for medical or health and safety reasons for up to 26 weeks on full pay as long as you have been employed for at least one month.
Suspension if you are pregnant
If you are pregnant your employer must complete a risk assessment of your job and working conditions to eliminate any health and safety risks to you and your baby. If they cannot provide you with a reasonable and safe alternative to your job then they can suspend you on full pay.
Length of suspension: You can be suspended for the duration of your pregnancy or as long as there is a health and safety risk to you or the baby and there is no suitable alternative to avoiding that risk.
Suspension as part of a disciplinary procedure (investigation)
You may be suspended on full pay if allegations of misconduct have been made against you and are being investigated. Suspension on full pay is not a punishment, but part of the investigation process in a disciplinary procedure for many employers.
Your employer should give you a clear reason for the suspension and explain what other options have been explored instead of suspension. If you are suspended because of allegations against you, you are entitled to know what the allegations are.
Length of suspension: Your employer needs to do what they can to resolve the issue swiftly and keep the suspension to a minimum. Your employer should keep the suspension decision under review.
Pay while you are suspended
Unless there is a clause in your contract that says your employer can suspend you without pay, you should receive full pay while you are suspended. Most suspensions are on full pay, even when part of a disciplinary process. Whether payments such as overtime or commission are included depends on the precise wording of an employment contract.
If you are suspended for medical or health and safety reasons then you should always receive full pay.
Employment rights while you are suspended
You remain an employee so retain your employment rights while you are suspended.
As a condition of your suspension, your employer may prevent you from speaking to fellow employees and clients/customers of the business. This is lawful unless you can show that it interferes with your ability to answer any allegations that have been made against you.
- Suspension is when an employee is sent home from work, usually while receiving full pay. You can be suspended if you are being investigated for misconduct, for health or safety reasons, for example, because you are pregnant.
- Suspension is often part of an organisation’s disciplinary procedure, to allow an investigation to take place.
- Employees can be suspended for medical or health and safety reasons.
- You remain an employee and your employment rights continue while you are suspended.
Can I be suspended for other reasons?
Suspension can also occur to protect employees when health and safety issues arise in the workplace, or for medical reasons.
Can I be suspended if I’m pregnant?
Yes, your employer can suspend you on full pay if there is a health or safety risk to you or your baby and they are unable to provide you with alternative work.
Can I be suspended without pay?
Yes, if this is specified as a condition of your contract, and your employer can make a reasonable case for it.
Do I lose my employment rights if I’m suspended?
No, even if you are suspended without pay, your other employment rights continue.
Is suspension a punishment for misconduct?
No, suspension from work is not usually a punishment. Typically, employees are suspended while allegations of misconduct are investigated.