We often get questions about suspension and what you need to do to suspend an employee. Most recently a client asked 'two of my employees have had a fight, can I suspend one but not the other?'
Before you consider suspension, you should first consider if it’s actually necessary. Most disciplinary procedures don’t end in suspension and it should never be an automatic approach for an employer when dealing with a disciplinary matter.
Suspension shouldn’t be a form of punishment for the employee, instead it should be a way of investigating the matter as quickly as possible. It’s inevitable that an employee who is suspended will see it as a punishment and that you may have already made your decision about the outcome, so good communication and keeping a paper trail will be important.
If you do decide it is necessary to suspend an employee, it’s important you follow a disciplinary process and ensure you operate your suspension policy consistently – especially if there are two (or more) employees who have been involved in an incident of misconduct and one is suspended and the other isn’t without good reason for the difference in treatment. This could be a breach of trust and confidence.
If the individual who is suspended has a protected characteristic and the other one doesn’t, or has previously performed a “protected act”, this might amount to a case of discrimination or victimisation which you definitely want to avoid.
Other options to consider instead of suspension could be changing their work hours or working in a different part of the office or workplace, working under supervision or being placed on restricted duties.