Suspending an employee

Nov 30, 2016

Employers need to make sure they follow the correct procedure when it comes to the suspension of an employee. A legal procedure must be followed, otherwise it could lead to legal disputes. To avoid that risk employers should follow the correct procedure when issuing a notice of suspension for precautionary suspension.
The decision to suspend will hugely depend on the circumstances regarding the alleged misconduct and an employee should not be suspended unless there are prima facie (on the face of it) grounds for believing that the employee has committed serious misconduct and that there is some objectively justifiable reason for excluding the employee from the workplace.
There are two types of suspension that can be followed:

  1. Preventative or precautionary suspension; and
  2. Punitive suspension.

For the purposes of this article, precautionary suspension and the correct procedure for issuing a notice of suspension will be dealt with.
When should precautionary suspension be used?
This type of suspension is used when it is believed that an employee who has committed serious misconduct may interfere with the employer’s investigation or tamper with evidence.
The employee must be issued with the notice of suspension in writing. This means that the employee is given an opportunity to be heard.
When it comes to precautionary suspension, the notice of suspension will only be legal if a fair procedure is followed.
This means:

  • The first letter informed the employee that it is being proposed that he be suspended;
  • The employee is informed of the reasons for wanting to suspend him (fair reason);
  • The employee is invited to make representations before it is decided to suspend him;
  • The employee’s representations have been considered;
  • The employee is informed of the final decision with adequate reasons for it.

It is crucial that the correct procedure is followed when dealing with precautionary suspension. It must be followed even if the employer’s policy or the employment contract does not require it.
A fair procedure must be followed before taking any decision which affects an employee, such as suspension. Ensuring that a notice of suspension for precautionary suspension is legally compliant will help ensure avoiding labour disputes.

The content does not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Kindly contact us on or 021 556 1075 to speak to one of our consultants.


Wallace Albertyn

Wallace Albertyn is a Senior Associate and Legal Advisor at LabourMan Consultants.

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