Managing employee discipline is one of the toughest parts of an HR leader’s job. When an employee is accused of misconduct, it’s usually best practice to suspend their employment pending a full investigation. This is a serious step, and giving them the news in person isn’t enough—you should also prepare an official suspension letter.
How to Write an Employee Suspension Letter
Suspending an employee isn’t a step to take lightly. While the most common cause for suspension is to give time for an investigation into misconduct, some companies also use this as a method of punishment after violation of policy. Whether this is possible will depend on an employee’s contract and whether there is any specific suspension clause.
A suspended employee should always be told in person (or over the phone) but the details will need to be put into writing. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, compliance: if an employee complains at a later date, you want proof that they were treated fairly. It’s also a chance to show the employee that you are being fair, and that their case will be examined thoroughly and without bias.
Explain in detail what the suspension means for an employee—they’ll want to know exactly why they were suspended, when they’ll be able to return (if at all) and their pay status while absent.
What to Include in an Employee Suspension Letter
You may well feel let down by employee’s behavior—but put time and effort into crafting a letter which explains the why and the how of their suspension (our template can help).
Here’s what to include:
It’s obvious, but simply stating “you’re suspended” isn’t enough. Make sure you state the precise length of the suspension, and how this may be affected any disciplinary proceedings.
Details of an Investigation
If an employee is being suspended pending an investigation, give details how this will work. Explain the process, the likely timeline and the potential consequences.
With or without pay
The first thing an employee will want to know is whether they’ll be paid or not. An unpaid suspension is more effective as a disciplinary procedure, but it’s harder to justify. If a suspension is unpaid, explain how this will affect the employee’s benefit accruals.
The Decision Making Process
Take time to justify why an employee is being suspended. Remember, if an employee files a grievance at a later date, this letter could be reviewed as evidence. Don’t presume that the reason for suspension is obvious—clearly lay out your justification.
If possible, give detailed examples of the behavior which has led the employee to be suspended. Be as detailed as possible—make sure the employee understands exactly what they did wrong, and how it violates the rules of their employment.
The Right to Respond
Let the employee know that they have the right to complain about the suspension. Explain the specific procedure by which they can do this (which may depend on whether they are unionized), and by what date they must take action.
The Risk of Termination
Finally, make sure the suspended employee knows the seriousness of the situation. Depending on the result of any disciplinary proceedings, or in the case of repeated misconduct, their employment will be terminated. If this does occur, it’s important they have been given sufficient warning.
Get an Employee Suspension Letter Template
This isn’t a letter you can leave to chance. If an employee isn’t happy with how they’ve been treated, a suspension letter may be used as evidence in a legal dispute. To help businesses, Paycor is offering a free suspension letter template. Once downloaded, the letter can be customized to the needs of your organization.