In a recent case before the Employment Relations Authority, an employee allegedly injured another employee to such an extent that he required hospitalisation.

The employer immediately suspended the employee on full pay and carried out an investigation in which it found that the employee had injured the other employee and that his actions constituted serious misconduct.  He was dismissed.

The Authority agreed with the employer in so far as the investigation was concerned, and decided that the processes had been clear, correct and proper.  The Authority also agreed with the outcome of the investigation process and held that the employer was justified in dismissing the employee.

However, the Authority said that the employer should not have suspended the employee in the manner it did.  The employer suspended the employee without any process and without giving the employee an opportunity to comment or respond to the proposed suspension.  Being suspended, even on full pay, is a drastic action.  Despite the seriousness of the allegations, an employer must always carry out proper process and give the employee an opportunity to comment or respond before making a decision to suspend.

As a result of the improper suspension, the authority awarded the employee $1,000 compensation.

This case shows that no matter how serious the allegation, an employer is always required to carry out proper process and comply with employment law.

If you need assistance on this issue or on other employment problems, please call Alan Knowsley.