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Employers may suspend a worker upon receiving a report of a situation in order to carry out an investigation into misconduct without prejudice, to preserve evidence, or for health and safety reasons. As a general rule there must be either statutory or contractual justification for suspension, or agreement by the employee.
The decision to suspend should not be automatic, but should be on a case-by-case basis, with the employee given the opportunity to comment and put their case before the employer.
Suspension will ordinarily be on full pay, unless there is contractual provision for suspension without pay.
The Court of Appeal has referred to suspension as a "drastic" measure which, if more than momentary must have a devastating effect on the employee concerned. It is therefore not used very frequently.
Suspension without pay has been found in court cases to be disciplinary and therefore not allowed given that the main aim of a suspension is to investigate an incident or a misconduct report.
Even where there is an express contractual provision that gives the employer power to suspend "with or without pay" it will not necessarily be open to the employer to suspend without pay.
If a case arises at work in which someone is being threatened with suspension, contact a Unite organiser as soon as possible.