An employer's guide to worker suspension

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legal rights employee suspension

In cases of misconduct, an employer may want to suspend an employee while an investigation takes place. As always, getting the process right is crucial.

Generally, there is no automatic right to suspend an employee unless the employment agreement provides for suspension. So make sure you are on solid ground before suspending.

The first step is to check the terms of the employment agreement to see:

(a) if you can suspend;

(b) if you can - on what grounds; and

(c) whether there are any particular steps you need to take.

However, regardless of the wording of a suspension clause in an employment agreement, the employer must follow a fair process before deciding to suspend the employee. What is considered fair will depend on the circumstances but usually an employee should be given a chance to comment on the suspension and it should be on full pay.

If the employment agreement is silent on suspension, you might still be able to suspend during the disciplinary process in particularly serious cases. Examples of serious misconduct are: alleged assault, theft or other instances where allowing an employee to remain on the premises while an investigation is carried out risks and exposes the business in some way.

What is clear is that the Courts view suspension as a very serious step. As such, the decision to suspend should be carefully considered and only utilised in very serious cases. We recommend that you check with your employment lawyer when suspension is contemplated.

For more information on employee suspension, please contact Smith & Partners’ Employment Law Specialist, Carolyn Ranson on 09 837 6891 or at carolyn.ranson@smithpartners.co.nz 

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