Disciplinary process should be used only as a last resort

As many of us now know, suspension during a disciplinary process should be used only as a last resort and only if there is a significant risk to the business if the individual remains at work.

Employees committing suicide following suspension and disciplinary has increased over recent years, with suicide now being the biggest killer of men under 50 years old.

It is, therefore, becoming increasingly important to handle these difficult scenarios as empathetically as possible.

In conduct situations, it can be difficult not to jump to conclusions and become angry and frustrated.

Even though you might feel this way, we need to act sensitively and consider how the employee will also feel.

This is for every employee, whether or not we are aware that they suffer with a mental health condition.

A few tips on how to handle these situations in an attempt to prevent suicide and damaging mental health impacts include:

  • Swift timings & keeping in touch – investigations must be as thorough as possible however avoid any unnecessary delays and aim to conclude the process in a timely manner to avoid prolonged stewing and anxiety. Keep in touch regularly and assign a welfare contact at work to check in and update them.

  • Don’t dodge the conversation – if you are noticing signs of mental health concerns with any employee, discuss this. Approach this in a supportive manner, air your concerns and offer support even if this is just to listen.

  • Emergency welfare contacts – you will already ask employees for next of kin or emergency contacts if there are any physical emergencies however, it is now encouraged to request details of a person who can be contacted if you have any other welfare or mental health concerns. This is another step to safeguard your employees and show that you take their mental health into consideration as well as just physical.

  • Promote good mental health activities everyday – this can be done through activities such as:
  • Training a mental health first aider
  • Mental health awareness training
  • Employee Assistance Programmes
  • Flexible working opportunities
  • Wellbeing policies and workplace schemes
  • Promoting schemes such as Samaritans, Zero Suicide Alliance and Able Futures*

  • Educate yourself and colleagues on common signs of poor mental health to look out for. Useful information on this can be found at:

*Able futures is a government funded scheme which provides support to the people working and living with mental health difficulties, employers and providers of apprenticeships.

For more information visit the sites above or ask a member of the Solutions for HR Team.

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