Suspension in Early Years and Childcare is Not a Neutral Act: Understanding the Implications

Suspension in Early Years and Childcare is Not a Neutral Act: Understanding the Implications

September 9, 2023

In an employment context, suspension is a measure deployed when an allegation of serious misconduct has been made. Whilst many people often consider this to be a ‘neutral act’, implying a lack of impact, suspension in Early Years and Childcare does ‘leave a mark’ and therefore we feel is not a neutral act.

In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons why we feel suspensions should be considered and not used without thought to the alternatives and the consequences.

Reputational Damage

Here today, gone tomorrow. One consequence of suspension is the impact it can have on the reputation and credibility of the individual being suspended. Being suspended can be interpreted as an indication of wrongdoing or a failure to meet certain standards.

The phrase “No Smoke, Without Fire!”

The resulting tarnished reputation may lead to a loss of confidence. People ask questions. Questions the Early Years and Childcare employer can’t answer. Parents are naturally obsessed with the care of their children, if you give them reasons to question a child’s safety they may act with their feet.

Damage to Operation

Suspension can also disrupt normal business operations, making it clear that it is not a neutral action. Suspending a particular employee can lead to a ripple effect to the setting. If ‘key’ people are suspended how would the setting operate? This tests our succession planning strategies and measures we have already put in place to ensure we are not dependent on any one individual. Having trained deputies can mitigate the damage to the operation of one individual being suspended.

Legal Implications

In certain circumstances being suspended may lead to an employee resigning immediately and claiming constructive dismissal. The risk here is that they claim that the employer has breached the contractual obligation of ‘trust and confidence’ by suspending them. Often we hear this because of the manner of the suspension. ‘Marching a senior employee off the premises’ in front of an audience instead of it being done in a way that is more subtle and confidential.

Also, not suspending can result in a loss of confidence in the registered provider by LADO. We have known circumstances where if an employer had not suspended that Ofsted would have been likely on the back of pressure from LADO, removed registration.

So how should we consider suspensions?

We would recommend that you can evidence that you have weighed up the ‘fors’ and ‘against’ when it comes to suspension. n

If you have to suspend, write it into your letter of suspension, that ‘suspension is deemed appropriate, in the circumstances’.

Have you considered whether there is an alternative?

For example if an employee is on annual leave and is unlikely to be looking to enter the workplace, can we delay the suspension decision. Have they already gone off sick?

Could the employee be redeployed? Do you have the ability to move the employee’s work location and would this result in an avoidance of a suspension. Would this be a satisfactory alternative?

Could the employee be placed on restricted duties? Would this be preferable to suspension, could it work?

Why are we suspending? Suspending because you are ‘cheesed off’ with an individual is probably not going to be a fair reason for this approach. Suspending because of an allegation of a gross misconduct offence might be.

To read more on disciplinary procedures click here

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