Especially when compared to a knee-jerk reaction which could lead to a costly pay out!
Those who employ qualified professionals in a vocation, such as a teacher, would be wise to remember that suspension may not be deemed to be a neutral act.
In the High Court case of Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth, a teacher was suspended because of the force she used with two children. However, fundamentally her employers had not stopped to firstly ask for her response to the allegations, and there was no evidence of any consideration having been given to any alternative to suspension. The teacher resigned the same day.
It was noted that a knee-jerk reaction must be avoided and that suspension must not be the default position. Had the reason for suspension been on the grounds of protection of the children, then fair enough, but since the reason was in order to enable a fair investigation to take place, it was held that this decision amounted to a repudiatory breach of contract, that being one of mutual trust and confidence which must exist between employer and employee.
The morale of the story therefore, is that when faced with a serious allegation, that the starting point is to sit down with the employee in question, and conduct a thorough investigation, giving due consideration to whether or not suspension is truly necessary or not. In other words, taking a more considered and patient approach to the situation, rather than acting in haste, could ultimately help to prevent problems down the line.
For any further advice on how to address problems at work, give Howarths a call and one of our specialist and legally qualified team will be happy to discuss.
Telephone 01274 864999 and speak to Andrea or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Andrea Staley, Employment Law Advisor