Should you suspend employees accused of misconduct during the course of the investigation?

You may wish to suspend an employee in order to prevent the alleged misconduct from continuing and/or to prevent interference with the investigation (eg destruction/concealment of evidence). The following points should be taken into consideration:

  • whether suspension is necessary, reasonable and proportionate in all the circumstances, and in particular whether the proposed period of suspension is reasonable
  • alternatives to suspension, such as: temporary transfer of the employee to another position/department or preventing access to IT systems
  • determine whether you have an obligation to suspend the employee in order to avoid incurring a separate liability (eg security of other employees)
  • before suspending the employee, you will need to determine the effect of any collective bargaining agreements, particularly if they have specific provisions on suspension
  • in addition, you need to consider whether local law permits suspension of employees in these circumstances
  • conversely, in certain regulated sectors (eg financial services), you may be obliged (or ordered by the relevant authorities) to suspend employees who are under investigation
  • if you do decide to suspend an employee, consider what you will say internally and externally in order to maintain confidentiality and to protect the reputation of the employee before any misconduct has been investigated