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You'll let your guilty employee off the hook if you suspend him illegally!

by , 23 October 2015
Did you catch your employee stealing from you? Or committing fraud? Your first instinct will probably be to suspend him without pay, so you can investigate the case. But hold on a minute!

You must put your anger and panic aside and follow the advice I'm about to give you. This way, you can suspend him, legally and efficiently.

Keep reading below...

Make sure you get suspension 100% right every time
Suspension can be for one of the following reasons:
• Preventative suspension. This is with pay pending a hearing; or
• Punitive suspension. This is without pay as a sanction instead of dismissing him for misconduct.
Preventative or precautionary suspension
This is when you suspend him so he doesn't interfere with any investigation you're doing into the allegations before the disciplinary hearing.
Two things to remember about preventative suspension:
1. The suspension isn't a disciplinary measure; and
2. You still pay the employee while he's suspended.
Fact: The CCMA doesn't care why you dismissed an employee... It only wants to know if you dismissed him fairly
Everything you need to know about substantively and procedurally fair disciplinary hearings
So… Your employee's guilty of misconduct. Let's say he took a company laptop home, without asking permission. It's a simple open and closed case of theft, isn't it?
Not so fast! You can't just say 'that's it, you're out of here' and think that's the end of that. No, you still have to hold a disciplinary hearing. You still have to give him a chance to defend his case, and explain why he did that.
Find out more here...

Punitive suspension
When you suspend him as a sanction after the disciplinary hearing took place.
Three things to remember about punitive suspension
1. You don't have to pay your employee for the time he's on suspension. But you'll generally have to get him to agree to this as an alternative to a more serious penalty. For example, dismissal.
2. Unilateral suspension without pay would be unfair. Whether you suspend your employee as a precautionary measure or as a sanction for disciplinary action, you must act fairly!
3. There's no fixed period for which you must suspend your employee. It depends on the nature of the offence. But remember the employee can challenge such a suspension if it's for too long a period.
Your employee has the right to fairness
Make sure you have a good reason for wanting to suspend the employee (substantive fairness) and you must follow a fair procedure (procedural fairness).
Substantive fairness: When can you justify preventative suspension?
1. The misconduct the employee allegedly committed or is involved in must be serious. This includes circumstances involving alleged fraud, tender or financial irregularities; sexual harassment; and assault or intimidation. 
2. You believe any misconduct investigation will be jeopardised if he's at work.
3. You believe his presence might endanger the wellbeing or safety of any person or company property.
Look at the facts in each case before you decide to suspend him. Use fairness as your yardstick. Ask yourself: 'Do I have a valid reason for suspending the employee?'
If you're not absolutely certain, don't suspend!

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