How can an employee challenge a decision to suspend them pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation?
An employee who has been suspended from work, and who wishes to challenge the decision to suspend, may seek to do so internally by way of the employer's grievance procedure. The employer should address the grievance in accordance with its procedures and the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. The employer should consider the employee's concerns, and determine whether or not the circumstances of the case justify the employee's suspension from work.
In certain cases, an employee may be able to apply for an injunction to prevent their suspension from work. The civil courts have the power to grant an injunction preventing the suspension of an employee that is potentially in breach of the employment contract. A court is most likely to grant an injunction for an employee in a professional role, where the suspension would cast doubt over their competence, and where financial compensation is unlikely to be an adequate eventual remedy for loss suffered as a result of the damage that suspension would cause to the employee's reputation. Determining whether or not it is appropriate to grant an injunction in a particular case involves a balancing exercise of the competing interests of the parties.
The Court of Appeal confirmed that the power exists to grant an injunction to prevent suspension in Mezey v South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust  EWCA Civ 106 CA. The Court stated that suspension is not a "neutral act preserving the employment relationship", and that the High Court had been entitled to grant an interim injunction restraining the employer, pending trial, from suspending the employee, who was employed as a consultant psychiatrist.