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When is it safe to suspend an employee?

Whenever an employer commences disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct or if they have lost trust in an employee and the proceedings could result in the employee’s dismissal, an employer shall often suspend the employee from the workplace pending any investigation and any disciplinary hearing. But does suspending an employee breach the implied term of trust and confidence?

This was recently considered by the Court of Appeal in London Borough of Lambeth v Agoreyo. Following a complaint that the teacher has used excessive force against two pupils, the school decided to suspend the teacher to allow an investigation to be completed. The teacher alleged that the suspension breaches the implied term of trust and confidence. She resigned as a result of the breach and brought the claim.

The County Court found that the school had not breached the implied term as it has reasonable and proper cause for suspending her. On appeal, the High Court found that it was not necessary for the school to suspend her and as such, the implied term of trust and confidence had been breached.

This was overturned by the Court of Appeal who found that the school has reasonable and proper cause to suspend and that the test proposed by the High Court was too high a standard.

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