The headlines in the news have been dominated by reports concerning Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson regarding an incident that occurred whilst filming the latest episode of the popular TV series. Although the presenter and sources close to him have vehemently denied the allegations, it has been widely reported that Clarkson assaulted a producer which has resulted in the programme being pulled from broadcast. The BBC have made the decision to suspend Clarkson whilst an investigation is carried out.
Amidst the speculation, the incident has highlighted key issues employers should consider where there is an allegation against an employee of misconduct in the workplace and whether the suspension of an employee might be appropriate whilst an investigation is carried out.
An allegation of assault in the workplace is likely to amount to an allegation of gross misconduct which could result in dismissal without notice if findings are made against the employee. A prudent employer should take the necessary steps to investigate the allegations and decide whether to implement its internal disciplinary procedure.
An employer has the right to suspend an employee when allegations arise concerning misconduct. The suspension should not be longer than is necessary to allow you an opportunity to investigate the allegations. Suspension is not meant to be a form of punishment for the employee and this should be explained to them. They should receive their usual salary and benefits for the duration of the suspension.
Suspending an employee can be helpful in protecting the business as you can prevent the employee from attending your premises and contacting any of your customers, clients, suppliers, contracts or staff, unless they have been authorised to do so. In addition, suspension can help prevent the employee interfering with evidence you are collecting as part of the investigation e.g. speaking to colleagues that may be witnesses.
If you require any advice on suspending an employee or investigate disciplinary allegations, please contact our specialist Commercial HR & Employment law department on 0845 050 1959, alternatively please complete the online enquiry form.