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Please provide some background information on your situation. Please can you also tell me how long you have worked there for? Thank you
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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.
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.
At this stage you cannot take any legal action against the employer because that can only happen once your employment terminates, whether by dismissal or resignation.
If you were to take any action against the colleague then that would be under the law of defamation. You can do this if needed but this can be quite complex and unlikely to be the right thing to do here.
So you are best advised to see where the employer takes this first – if they discipline then you can formally defend yourself and appeal the outcome. If they do not and they drop the matter – then that should be the end of it and in turn you can raise a formal grievance against the colleague to complain about their actions.
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If the employer cannot immediately tell who is wrong and who is not, then they should tread carefully when deciding on how to help you return to work, so that they are not seen to punish the other person in the process, or vice versa. So maybe they can try and change things around a bit to ensure you do not have any direct contact but without actually treating either of you detrimentally in the process.
In the disciplinary you will be able to provide whatever defences you believe are relevant to counter the allegations, including calling witnesses. You can appeal the outcome as well and a new independent manager will consider that. But as far as a decision by the employer is concerned to be able to justify that as being fair they would need to ensure they follow a fair procedure.
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 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.
As mentioned, 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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