suspension

 During an internal investigation, an employee suspension may be needed temporarily. Employees are commonly suspended because of misconduct allegations, but it is a hard decision to make as numerous considerations need to be taken into account. Employers need to be aware of all the rights that staff have during the internal investigation process and they need to prepare a plan if the employee comes back to work. The right to suspend an employee should be included in the employment contract and even though they do not complete their work tasks, their contract is still valid.

 

Employee suspension in an internal investigation

 During an internal investigation relating to misconduct, a business may choose to suspend an employee if they think that them being at the workplace could worsen the situation and put other workers at risk. This is why businesses need to consider whether there are other options available and try to determine the impact the employee could potentially have on others. So what steps can an organisation take? Managers should: 

-Hold meetings

-Create a suspension letter

-Document all details

 

Hold meetings

 Managers need to hold meetings with everyone involved in the investigation. Once it has been decided that the employee is being suspended, they need to talk to them and explain the situation. They have to ensure that the employee will be able to tell their side of the story and know that they are not being terminated. If the investigation does not conclude that they have participated in misconduct, then they will be reinstated. The worker should be provided with a way of communicating with their supervisor or other relevant parties. 

 It must be stressed that the employee still has a valid contract and they need to comply with all necessary laws and regulations. They might be paid normally, the only difference will be that they will not perform any work as part of the internal investigation suspension. 

 

Create a suspension letter

 After the meeting, the manager or supervisor should provide the employee with a suspension letter as soon as possible. The suspension letter should include the name and address of the staff member, the address of the company, the name of the person who is writing the letter and the date. 

 The letter must confirm the dates of suspension and the reason for it. It should state that the issue was discussed in the meeting prior and everyone who attended the meeting. It must also explain whether the worker will be paid or not and highlight that they have not come to the conclusion that the employee participated in serious misconduct. 

 It should remind the staff member that their contract is still valid and they need to comply with company policies including not sharing confidential information. However, access to company accounts will also be suspended as the employee must not perform their work duties while suspended. The suspension letter should emphasise that while the worker should not come to the office for work, they might be needed to come in as part of the investigation process. 

 The suspension letter may also state what actions will be taken once the investigation has been concluded. It can inform the employee of the employer’s plans based on the different outcomes. The letter could emphasise that during this period, they are allowed to send evidence to support their case and provide them with resources in case they need to seek help. 

 

Document all details

 Every stage of the suspension process must be documented. This includes the meeting, the reasoning behind the suspension and the suspension letter. The documents should explain how their actions abide by company policies and government laws and regulations. The suspension should be kept short if possible but if an extension is needed then the employer needs to describe the reasoning for this decision. 

suspension

Employee coming to work after an internal investigation

 An employee should be kept updated on the progress of the internal investigation. After the internal investigation has been completed, there are three possible conclusions that could be made. The employee needs to be:

-Terminated

-Disciplined

-Reinstated

 

Terminated

 In this scenario,  the employee’s behaviour has been found to have constituted serious misconduct and they need to be removed from the company. Examples of serious misconduct include but are not limited to: Violent or abusive behaviour, sexual harassment and reckless behaviour. It could be that the employee participated in bullying against other team members. The organisation needs to have a meeting with the employee and discuss the findings of the internal investigation and explain why they are being terminated. The termination needs to follow the relevant state or government requirements to ensure that it is not classified as unfair dismissal

 

Disciplined

 It could have been discovered that the employee was part of misconduct of low severity, which means that the worker will still be part of the company but will face disciplinary action. It could include a performance improvement plan, a reduction in pay or a reduction in rank. The disciplinary action is mandatory if misconduct it found, so the company shows the rest of the staff members that policies are taken seriously and consequences will follow if employees decide to not comply. Warnings may also be given, either verbally or in writing.

 The disciplinary action they receive should be consistent with the rules the company has in place. Businesses have to be careful not to discriminate against workers in this stage as it could backfire.

 

Reinstated 

 In the best case scenario, the internal investigation has found that the employee has not committed any misconduct. The employee should be reinstated and a meeting should be held with them to discuss the findings and assure them that the suspension will not affect their career or promotion opportunities. The employee must be thanked for cooperating with the internal investigation and should be discouraged from retaliating or treating the complainant poorly. 

 The complainant will then be informed of the internal investigation conclusion and a meeting can be held with them to assure them that the internal investigation was thorough and their report was taken seriously. Both parties should be offered support as they may feel unfairly treated or uncomfortable. 

 

Conducting a fair internal investigation

 If you want to ensure the investigation is fair then Polonious can offer your organisation a confidential and efficient internal investigation. Polonious has ISO 27001 certification which means that we comply with the highest international data security standards. Moreover, our clients can monitor the process of the internal investigation from one central point and have a better idea of the costs associated with each case. Want to learn more? Request a demo!

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Learn more about how Polonious can help you conduct an internal investigation. 

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