Take care with suspension – it could be considered a breach of contract.
There are many reasons why we may take a decision to suspend an employee.
You may feel the incident is so severe you don’t have any other choice; you may need to diffuse or take the heat out of a situation or even because you just can’t face having them around.
In the case of Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth, the High Court determined that the suspension of a teacher amounted to a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence.
In this case, a teacher was suspended because of the force she used with two children.
She had not been interviewed for her side of the story and the employer didn’t consider any alternatives to suspension.
She resigned the same day.
The High Court found that in this case suspension was not a neutral act and amounted to a breach of contract.
They noted that “knee jerk” reactions involving suspension should be avoided and suspension should be a “default position”.
The lesson here is to consider suspension carefully and only suspend once you have investigated the allegations fully with the individual and have determined that there is no other reasonable alternative to suspension.
Just because something is potentially gross misconduct doesn’t mean that you should suspend.
This case highlights that the act of suspension itself speaks volumes and it isn’t always considered a neutral act.