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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 73529
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have been suspended from work for breach of contract for

Customer Question

Hello, I have been suspended from work for breach of contract for not putting in writing notice of extra employment. At the time I started the extra work there was no management in place and therefore no one to write to. The contract should have been updated as my hours has increased but wasn’t done. In January a new CEO took over and last week he found out I had been doing extra work since last Sept/Oct. My new contract does not have anything about extra employment although the handbook does even though it states on the front of the handbook that the contents are not contractual. I submitted a written notice of extra employment 1 day after the topic was bought up but I was suspended yesterday for breaching my contract. What are my rights please?
JA: Have you discussed the suspension with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: no, I work for a Charity, the CEO is my line manager and we have no HR
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: employee, no union
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: i believe I am being victimised and forced out of my job
Submitted: 17 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

How long have you worked there for? Please note this is not always an instant service and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your question and will get back to you today. Thanks

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
I have worked there for 2.5 years although the first year was through an agency and then I became a direct employee about 1.5 years ago
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.
Thank you very much for clarifying. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the situation you have found yourself in.Being placed on suspension is not an automatic indication of guilt and does not amount to formal disciplinary action. Whilst it can be the start of a disciplinary process, it is certainly not a given that it will end up that way.Suspension is primarily used as a precautionary measure in more serious cases, whilst the employer investigates any allegations against an employee. Reasons for suspending could be in the case of gross misconduct; breakdown of working 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.The period of suspension should be as short as possible and kept under regular review. During that period the employer should conduct a reasonable investigation into the allegations against the employee, without unreasonable delay.On suspension, the employer could potentially provide the bare minimum of details. They could simply provide a basic reason for it, without going into any further detail, like the specific allegations or provide any evidence. As this stage, the employee is not formally expected to defend themselves and any investigation will simply ask them to provide details from recollection without the need to officially prepare any sort of defence.If the investigation provides enough evidence to justify disciplinary action, the employee has the right to be informed in advance of the allegations and provided with the evidence to be used against them. That will give them the opportunity to prepare a defence for the forthcoming disciplinary hearing. They also have a right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative.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, without further action.If they decide to take it further, the main issue in the circumstances is the fact that you have only been continuously employed at you place of work for less than 2 years. That means that your employment rights will, unfortunately, be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not have legal protection against unfair dismissal. This basically means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as the decision is not based on a reason which makes a dismissal automatically unfair. They can proceed with a dismissal even if you had done nothing wrong and also without following any specific fair procedure or proving that any of the allegations are true.As mentioned, there are some exceptions to this, in which case the 2-year rule does not apply. These include situations where the dismissal was wholly, or partly, due to:
- Discrimination due to a protected characteristic (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)
- Taking, or trying to take, leave for family reasons including pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or leave for dependants
However, if the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions, you would not be able to challenge it due to not meeting the minimum service criteria for claiming in the Employment Tribunal. In that case your only protection would be if you were dismissed in breach of contract. That would usually happen if you were not paid any contractual notice period due to you, unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct. That is where you were guilty of something very serious which justifies immediate dismissal, without any notice pay.In any other circumstances, you would be due a minimum notice period, as per your contract and associated pay. If you did not have a written contract in place you would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. The employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they can decide to pay you in lieu of notice. That is when you are paid for the equivalent of the notice period but your employment is terminated immediately and you are not expected to work through your notice period.Please note that your time with the agency will not count towards your continuous service.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.
Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** was asking if they had a case against me for breach of contract as I don’t believe they do
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

If there is nothing in the contract about this and the only mention is in the handbook, which is not part of the contract, then this is not a breach of contract. However, it is a breach of policy.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
even if I submitted a written notice, which I did, how can they justify suspending me?
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Also it is in the old contract but I have a new one which doesn’t mention it, can they still hold me to my old contract?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.
Suspension can happen at any time, even if you are serving notice. What specifically was the old contract for, an old job you did which you no longer do?
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
No it was for the same job but when I started there my hours were 30, they then went up and my contract was redone
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.
Strictly speaking the new contract should now take precedence, although even if they use the old one, that still does not change your legal rights
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok thanks
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.
You are most welcome and all the best