December 19, 2023
There are two types of suspension from work: punitive suspension and precautionary suspension.
Punitive suspension is commonly used as a punishment for misconduct and the employee will not receive full pay or benefits while suspended. Precautionary suspension is commonly used when an internal investigation is being undertaken to avoid interference. The employee will receive full pay and benefits during this time.
How Long Can You Legally Be Suspended For?
Legally, there is no minimum or maximum time limit when it comes to suspension from work. However, it is recommended that the suspension period should be as short as possible and regularly reviewed to make sure it is still required.
A long suspension can lead to issues such as an impact on employee health and wellbeing and a breakdown of trust between employee and employer. Both of these issues place risk against an employment contract and could lead to further problems.
How Long Should an Investigation Take at Work?
There is no set time period for an investigation to be held for at work; this is dependent on the investigation. If a particularly complicated matter is being investigated, this may take several weeks to be completed. However, a simpler matter may only require a few days.
No matter the individual circumstances, it’s good practice for a provisional timeframe to be put into place. There may be suggested timeframes within company policy, but if there is not, a provisional timeframe should still be agreed upon.
Timeframes are by no means concrete and should be modified, if necessary, communicated to all parties involved and included in the report. An investigation should be conducted as quickly as possible, but it’s important for it to be thorough, fair and reasonable, especially if disciplinary action or legal proceedings will be required as a result.
What is Unfair Suspension?
If a suspension has been implemented without fair reason and process, this is effectively known as “unfair labour practice”. Unfair labour practice falls under Section 186 (2) (b) of the Labour Relations Act and employees that feel this applies to them can refer the dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). From here, the CCMA may uplift the suspension and award the employee compensation.
Can You Get Your Job Back After Being Suspended?
Suspension does not automatically result in dismissal, so it is possible to return to work. Ultimately, it depends on the severity of the accusation and the results of the investigation. Depending on the outcome, the suspension period may come to an end or the employee will be dismissed.
Every case is unique; suspended employees are usually notified when the return to work date is set. Then, once the suspension is finished, they will be able to return to work as soon as possible, often immediately. If the result of the investigation is dismissal, it is highly unlikely the employee will be able to return to work in the future.
If you believe your suspension period has been continuing for a long period of time and it has become unreasonable to be kept suspended from work, seek advice from a legal professional at Premier Legal. Get in touch with our employment law experts who will be happy to help.