Introduction to this document

Extension of suspension letter

Where an employee has been suspended whilst you investigate very serious misconduct allegations, if that investigation is taking longer than expected, be sure to keep the employee informed using our letter.

Suspension from duty

Where an employee is alleged to have committed one or more acts of very serious or gross misconduct, you may have suspended them on full pay using our Suspension Letter whilst you carry out an investigation into the allegations. The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures says that “in cases where a period of suspension with pay is considered necessary, this period should be as brief as possible, should be kept under review and it should be made clear that this suspension is not considered a disciplinary action”. So, it’s important that suspension isn’t allowed to become unnecessarily protracted – not only might this be held to be in breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence, but also you’re still paying the employee during the suspension period, so the longer it lasts, the more you’ll have to pay them for doing no work.

Extended suspension

Our suspension letter envisages that you’ll let the employee know at the outset of their suspension approximately how long the investigation will take and therefore how long their suspension is expected to last. However, this position might well unexpectedly change as the investigation progresses. For example, the investigating officer or a key witness might go off sick, further allegations might come to light during the progress of the investigation that also need to be investigated as part of the same process, or the investigation might turn out to be more complex than initially thought. This may mean that the timetable you provided to the employee is no longer on track. In this scenario, use our Extension of Suspension Letter to keep the employee informed of the situation. Our letter refers to the previous investigation timetable, advises the employee that the investigation is unfortunately taking longer than originally envisaged (and the reason why) and then sets out a new timetable for it. It also provides that the terms of the employee’s suspension remain as previously advised to them, and that you’ll contact them again once the investigation is complete to let them know the next steps.

Unreasonable delay

If the investigating officer does go off sick during the investigation and it’s looking like their absence is going to be more than a few days, you should arrange for another manager to take over the investigation – don’t allow the process to be derailed by sickness absence. Likewise, if the investigation turns out to be more complex than expected, temporarily remove the investigating officer from their normal job duties so they can concentrate on completing the investigation in a timely manner. An unreasonable delay can render the disciplinary process unfair.