Care when suspending staff

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Anybody involved in the day-to-day operation of a school will be aware of how important it is to maintain the reputation and image of the organisation. When allegations surface against staff, especially when it involves keeping children safe in education there can often be a “knee-jerk” response to uphold both the integrity and reputation of the school.

Recently in an appeal, Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth [2017] EWHC 2019 (QB),  the court decided that suspending a teacher in a misconduct investigation was not a neutral act but that the suspension in the particular circumstances amounted to a breach of implied trust and confidence  and the action by the school (that led to the teacher’s resignation) was deemed a constructive dismissal .

Although the school in question issued a letter that said “the suspension is a neutral action and not a disciplinary sanction” the judge commented that this “inevitably casts a shadow over the employee’s competence

Keeping Children Safe in Education guide advises when allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff:

  • all options to avoid suspension should be considered prior to taking that step; and
  • suspension should not be the default position: an individual should be suspended only if there is no reasonable alternative.

In the words of the judge, schools “need to avoid a “knee-jerk” reaction” this is best done if everyone involved in your organisation familiarises themselves with the statutory guidance and when in doubt consult your legal adviser to ensure that your image and the integrity of your organisation remains intact.

For more information on how we can help your business, please contact Tony McPhillips, or call 0191 211 7908.