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Suspension: The LRA gives your employee a right to fairness

by , 24 December 2013
You can't just suspend your employee as you see fit. You must ensure suspension is fair. How do you go about doing this? Read on to find out so you can comply with the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

There are two types of suspension you can make use of. These are:

  1. Preventative or precautionary suspension; and
  2. Punitive suspension.

Regardless of the form of suspension you use, it must be fair.

That's right; the LRA gives your employee a right to fairness when it comes to suspension.

What does this mean?

You must ensure you have a good reason for wanting to suspend your employee (substantive fairness) and you must follow a fair procedure (procedural fairness) in order not to be guilty of unfair labour practices, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

Here are examples of what the LRA deems as unfair suspensions:

  • You suspend Wendy for coming to work late for the third time in a month. This is substantively unfair. Wendy's lateness isn't a fair reason to suspend her.
  • You suspend John without pay for two weeks because he took part in an unprotected strike. You didn't hold a disciplinary hearing and just went ahead and suspended him. This is procedurally unfair.
  • John's actions do constitute serious misconduct and may justify the suspension, but you must still follow a fair disciplinary process.

So how do you ensure suspension is fair?

Use these three steps to suspend an employee fairly

Step #1: Follow your disciplinary code or workplace policy if it deals with suspension

Step #2: Make sure you follow any regulation that deals with suspension; and

Step #3: Follow the rules governed by your employment contract if it deals with suspension. Just keep in mind that the contract comes first and overrides any policy. But where your collective agreement contains a suspension procedure, you must follow this procedure.

Well there you have it. Now you know how your employee is protected by the LRA when it comes to suspension. So make sure your employee's suspension is both substantively and procedurally fair.

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