When might you be suspended from work? A legal expert explains

On what grounds can you be suspended from work?

Employment law and discrimination claims specialist Kerry Gantley explains that there are two types of suspension.

Read: 'You're fired!' - understanding what constitutes unfair dismissal

The first is a precautionary suspension. This is when an employee is suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry or the outcome of an investigation.

The second is a punitive suspension. This is when an employee is suspended as a consequence of a disciplinary hearing. They are suspended as a sanction, but as an alternative to dismissal.

Also read: Dismissal isn't the default outcome of disciplinary action, a lawyer advises

Gantley says that employees cannot be suspended for incapacity or minor infractions such as late coming.

They can only be suspended when there are allegations of serious misconduct, she advises.

Read more: The difference between insubordination and insolence (and which gets you fired)

On the face of it, there has to be a prima facie case against the employee. It hasn't to warrant that the employee should be suspended.

Kerry Gantley, Partner - Cowan-Harper-Madikizela Attorneys

You either decide to suspend the person because you're going to be investigating or don't want the person at work because they could interfere.

Kerry Gantley, Partner - Cowan-Harper-Madikizela Attorneys

Here are some key parts of the legal procedure to ensure that suspension is not unfair:

  • the employer needs to have a strong case and justifiable reason as to why the employee cannot be at the workplace
  • the employee must be informed of what the allegations are against them
  • the employer must explain the reasons for the suspension and give the employee the opportunity to give reasons for not suspending him/her
  • the employee must have their rights explains to them
  • the employer must talk about timelines and explain what would happen at the end of the suspension period or probe

If you can't demonstrate that there is a strong case on the face of it, it's going to be an unfair dismissal.

Kerry Gantley, Partner - Cowan-Harper-Madikizela Attorneys

Generally, you are suspended on pay... If it's a precautionary suspension, then the employer would pay.

Kerry Gantley, Partner - Cowan-Harper-Madikizela Attorneys

Listen to the discussion on the World of Work feature:


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