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How to make a Suspension letter

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Make sure you do things right if you suspend an employee during a disciplinary investigation.

This suspension letter sets out, in clear and simple terms, the process to be followed and the employee's rights. Creating a suspension letter can help you to comply with the law on unfair dismissal (as set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Use this suspension letter:

  • when you want to suspend an employee from work during an ongoing disciplinary investigation, eg an investigation for 

  • for junior or senior employees

  • for employees based in England, Wales, or Scotland

This suspension letter covers:

  • notification of the suspension

  • arrangements during the suspension (ie what the employee can and cannot do)

  • the need for the employee to cooperate with the disciplinary investigation

  • the need for the employee to remain contactable regarding work queries

  • requesting that the employee brings relevant information, witnesses, or documents relating to the allegations to the employer's attention

  • who the contact person for queries is

You should always ensure that somebody being suspended knows the reason for their suspension.

A suspension letter is a letter that informs an employee that they are being temporarily prohibited from attending and performing work pending a disciplinary investigation. It formally notifies the employee that they cannot attend work during the period specified in the letter and outlines their rights and obligations during this period.

Suspending an employee (with pay) may be appropriate when dealing with a serious disciplinary allegation, in particular in the event of investigation for gross misconduct. In some circumstances, it can also be appropriate for investigations into poor performance or misconduct.

A suspension letter keeps the employee away from work while you investigate. It helps you to protect the business, people, and evidence during the investigation process.

Suspending an employee during a disciplinary investigation should only be done if truly necessary in the context of the investigation. It may be necessary: 

  • to prevent the employee interfering with evidence, witnesses, or the investigation, where there are reasonable grounds for believing this could happen

  • because working relationships have significantly broken down

  • to remove the risk that the employee’s presence poses to health and safety, the business’ or others’ property, or the business’ interests

  • if there are criminal proceedings related to the investigation, which mean that the employee can’t do their job 

Before suspending somebody, you should always check whether the employee’s employment contract and your business’ disciplinary, dismissal, and other policies and procedures set out any other rules you need to follow.

Make sure that this suspension letter follows your business’ clear and fair Disciplinary procedure

Before issuing a suspension letter, you should investigate the conduct subject to disciplinary proceedings to be sure that suspension is appropriate. For instance, you should check that there’s enough evidence to make the alleged misconduct worth investigating further. You should ensure that the suspension is not just an instinctual reaction to an event.

Before suspending somebody, you should also check whether another action may be more appropriate. For example, could the employee instead be transferred to work in a different area or location during the investigation?

A suspension letter must specify the date on which the suspension period takes effect. The suspension cannot take effect before the employee knows about it, so if you are posting the letter, the earliest that it can be effective is the date that the employee receives the letter.

The length of a suspension should be determined based on the expected length of the investigation. The suspension must be as brief as possible, and no longer than what is necessary for the purposes for which the suspension was initially introduced. Make sure you regularly review a suspension to ensure that it remains necessary.

A suspension letter does not end an employee’s employment contract, so during the suspension period the employee must:

  • comply with their terms and conditions of employment, except the duty to attend work

  • cooperate with the investigation process and attend any investigatory interviews or disciplinary hearings if required

  • remain available to answer any work-related queries

The suspension letter should make clear that suspension does not mean that the person will necessarily be dismissed. It should make it clear that the suspension is not

  • an assumption of guilt (eg that misconduct has occurred), as the purpose of a suspension will be to allow investigations to be conducted, which may establish that misconduct has occurred

  • a disciplinary sanction, as misconduct has not yet been determined

During the suspension, an employee continues to receive their normal pay and benefits. This is important, as if an employee doesn’t receive their pay and benefits during a suspension, the suspension could be seen as an unfair disciplinary action, which may expose the employer to legal claims by the employee.

A suspension letter usually prohibits the suspended staff from accessing the business’ premises, in order to facilitate the investigation process and protect evidence.

Ask a lawyer for advice if you want to:

  • suspend an employee for reasons other than disciplinary allegations

  • suspend employees based outside England, Wales, and Scotland

  • check whether you’re justified in suspending an employee

Other names for Suspension letter

Letter suspending an employee, Suspension letter pending investigation, Suspension letter for gross misconduct.