Most people are lucky enough to work in an environment where the employees and managerial staff get along well. Even so, people often do not agree in certain situations. When this happens, things are hopefully resolved amicably. When this is not the case, it might be necessary for a boss or manager to wish to suspend someone from work. They might even want to go so far as to suspend an employee’s contract entirely. While school principals often need to suspend children for various reasons, people might wonder if it is legal for an employee to be suspended from their job.
There is nothing in common law that gives an employer the right to suspend a worker without their pay. That includes situations where an employee’s behavior was bad enough to get them fired, if that were possible. When creating a contract at the commencement of a new position, an agreement regarding suspension can be included. If such a contract, statute, or award does already exist, an employee can be lawfully suspended from work. They might not be entitled to their wages, or be under obligation to carry out any duties in the workplace.
A suspension of an employment contract is just as it sounds: anything required by either side is formally suspended. However, the agreement might still require certain actions from one, or both, sides in the case of a suspension. It really depends on the terms of the agreement, statute, or award, as to what is required by each party. The agreement might also have stipulations regarding an employee’s right to resign, and effectively terminate the contract themselves.
What to Do When Unlawfully Suspended
What can an employee do if they are suspended, but there is no agreement in place to allow a suspension of their work contract? In this situation, it is a breach in the contract. The employee might be given the right to terminate the contract, since it has already been breached by the employer.
Unlawful suspension might also result in an award, or the payment of damages, being given to the suspended employee. They might also be able to go through the courts, in order to get back any wages that they lost while being unlawfully suspended. The extent of this will depend on the circumstances of the suspension, and also the work contract. In situations where there is no contract in place, it will be a different story.
Advice for Employers
Even if you do have the right to suspend an employee, there are some things you should consider before doing so:
- Is there an obvious reason to believe they were involved in misconduct, and was it of a serious nature?
- If they are not suspended, might they influence the witnesses?
- Is there a chance they will interfere with evidence?
- Is there a chance they might seek revenge against the person who made the complaint?
- Is there a chance of similar misconduct taking place, if the employee remains at the workplace?
If the answer to the first two questions, and at least one of the following questions, is “yes”, it might be appropriate to suspend the employee.