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I have been suspended from work while investigations into alleged misconduct are taking place. What should I do?

Often disciplinary procedures will contain a provision enabling the employer to suspend an individual, with pay, while an investigation takes place into allegations of misconduct. However, employers should not suspend you without considering and discussing the alternatives with you. Also, any period of suspension should be for the minimum period possible, and should be kept under review.

Although the decision to suspend is not necessarily disciplinary in nature, when suspension takes place it is normally in circumstances involving potential gross misconduct. Alternatively, suspension may happen where relationships have broken down, or where it is considered there are risks to your employer's property, or where your employer has responsibilities to other parties. Therefore, in addition to the damage to your standing amongst your colleagues etc, and ability to practice your skills, you should view a suspension from work as potentially leading to dismissal.

If you have not already done so, you should contact a representative who might accompany you to any subsequent disciplinary interview and discuss the situation. The law allows you to take a union representative or a colleague with you. Also, where the consequences for your career of a disciplinary charge being upheld are severe (for example, this is your only opportunity to avoid being barred from practising your profession), you may be entitled to hire a lawyer to act as your representative.

Before attending any subsequent disciplinary, make sure you're given full information about the allegations against you and any evidence on which your employer might be relying.