It can be quite daunting for an Employer to suspend an Employee. Many Employers have not followed any procedures when suspending their Employees. The Employer would later regret not seeking any advice as to the correct manner to suspend Employees especially when they must compensate misbehaving Employees due to their oversight. What would the correct process entail? What may an Employer do and what should they refrain from doing?
To answer these questions, a distinction must first be drawn between suspensions that are paid and unpaid suspensions.
Suspension with pay
This type of suspension is used as a precautionary measure by Employers when investigating alleged misconduct in the workplace. The Employee who is suspected of committing the misconduct, will be placed on paid suspension, pending the finalisation of the Employer’s investigation. The Employee is removed from the workplace to prevent him from interfering in the investigation and/or to prevent him from intimidating witnesses.
What procedure must be followed when suspending an Employee with pay?
The Employer must issue a Notice of Suspension to the Employee whereby it is indicated that the Employee is suspended, pending the finalisation of the investigation.
It must furthermore be explained to the Employee that he is suspected of committing serious misconduct (e.g. theft, fraud and/or dishonesty etc.). He must be given a valid reason for his suspension, i.e. that the investigation cannot be conducted with him present and/or it is feared that he might influence and/or intimidate witnesses when present at the workplace whilst the investigation is ongoing.
It is important to note that the Employee must be given an opportunity to make submissions to the Employer as to why he should not be suspended. Failure by the Employer to grant the Employee this opportunity may render the suspension an unfair labour practice in accordance with Section 186 (2) (b) of the Labour Relations Act.