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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47365
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been suspended from my senior management role within

Customer Question

I have been suspended from my senior management role within a NHS Trust. The allegations is based on one anonymous letter of bullying staff within my dept. The Trust has not avoided my request to see the content of the letter. I have worked for the same Trust for 14 years with absolutely no problems. Within the last year of a new Chief Operating officer joining the Trust he has reconfigured my role and downsize my position. HR within the trust seems out of their dept and has brought in an external HR consultant to investigate.
I have been on suspension now for 10 weeks with no update I am a member of the Royal College of midwives and my Rep has now been advised by the Trust that I will be asked to an interview until after the christmas and New Year period. Can you please advise
Thank you
Patricia
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified solicitor and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.firstly can you give me the date you were suspended and do you know if there are any witnesses to any of the alleged bullying incidents please.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was given a suspension letter on friday 7th October 2015 as I was about to go on leave for 2 weeks. When I returned from leave I received another letter from the Trust stating that my suspension was to start on the 28th October 2015 which of course confused me. They also made it plain within the letter that staff would be told that I was on extended leave and not suspended as outlined in their letter. As I stated before I have not been party to the letter. As far as I understand there are no witnesses
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am also confused as in the outline allegations it talked about determining if I am a bully or if there is a bullying culture within the dept.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience delays.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for your patience. Being placed on suspension is not an automatic assumption of guilt and does not amount to disciplinary action. It is there to be used as a precautionary measure whilst an employer investigates any allegations against the employee. Reasons for suspending could be in the case of gross misconduct, breakdown of relationship, risk to an employer's property, their clients or other employees, to preserve evidence or ensure it is not tampered with, avoid potential witnesses being pressured or intimidated, etc.
However, the employer should not just go and suspend unless there was a good reason for doing so and unnecessarily suspending someone or unreasonably prolonging a suspension could amount to a breach of trust and confidence which could prompt an employee to raise a grievance and eventually resign and claim constructive dismissal.
During the period of suspension the employer should conduct a reasonable investigation into the allegations against the employee. If the investigation gathers enough evidence to justify the taking disciplinary action that could be the next step. In that case the employee has the right to be informed in advance of the allegations against them and be given the opportunity to prepare for the hearing.
On the other hand, if the investigation does not find enough evidence to justify a disciplinary, the employer should terminate the suspension immediately and allow the employee to return to work as normal.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the laws on disciplinary action should the employer decide to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Misconduct is a common reason for taking disciplinary action against an employee. It could be due either to a single serious act of misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time.
In order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:
• Conducts a reasonable investigation;
• Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and
• Shows they had reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty.
In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Altogether, it means that a disciplinary procedure should be conducted as follows:
1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and especially the nature and seriousness of the allegations. The more serious these are, the more detailed the investigation needs to be.
2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides sufficient evidence of misconduct, the employee may be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations, allowing them time to prepare. They have the legal right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague.
3. Decision and penalty - following the disciplinary, if the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and formally sanction them. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's disciplinary record. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee should be issued with a written warning.
In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.
If there are any doubts about any of the above and there is belief or evidence that the employer has not satisfied these requirements, an appeal can be submitted to the employer immediately after the disciplinary outcome. If the disciplinary results in dismissal then a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. There are two requirements to claim: the employee must have at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer and the claim must be made within 3 months of the date of dismissal.

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