Has anyone returned to work after suspension? If you have, you’ll know that it can be a tricky time. While you may be delighted that your suspension has been lifted, you can face multiple challenges once you resume your duties.
Despite the outcome of the investigation, your reputation may have been damaged. You may also not feel so positive about your job and employer after the suspension. To help you navigate this process, I’ve compiled a short overview of what to expect when returning to work after suspension.
Why May an Employer Decide To End Your Suspension?
While suspension sometimes leads to a disciplinary hearing and also termination of employment, a suspension may also be lifted for a variety of reasons. Here are a few reasons why your employer may decide to lift your suspension:
- If your suspension was based on health and safety reasons, your employer may lift your suspension as soon as the health hazard has been addressed and it is safe for you to resume your duties. For instance, if you and other workers were exposed to a dangerous chemical at a process plant, your employer may ask you to return once the chemical has been replaced with another substance.
- Pregnant women whose duties have been suspended based on medical reasons may be asked to return to work once they have conceived. Depending on your situation and contract details, you may still be entitled to maternity leave once the baby is born.
- Your suspension may also be dropped if an investigation took place and they’ve established that the allegations against you were unfounded. If this is the case, you can take legal action against the company if you feel that your reputation has been irreparably damaged.
- An employer may also decide to discontinue an investigation in the event that the findings are inconclusive due to a lack of evidence or unreliable witnesses. Once again, if you feel aggrieved, you can decide to take legal steps to clear your name and be compensated for a loss of reputation.
Related Article: I Have Been Suspended From Work – Should I Resign?
What Happens After Suspension From Work?
Although you have other options in the event that your suspension has been lifted, you may find that your best option is to return to work, even if it’s just for a short period until you find new employment.
While the stressful time of the suspension is behind you, you may find that going back to work involves a unique set of challenges. You just need to type the question “has anyone returned to work after suspension?” in your browser if you don’t believe me.
Knowing what could lie ahead once you return to work, will help you successfully navigate the challenges you may encounter after your suspension has ended.
An End-of-Suspension Letter
Once the investigation is concluded and your suspension is no longer required, you should receive an official letter, stating that you are requested to return to work. The letter should confirm that the suspension has been lifted and that no formal disciplinary action will be taken against you.
While your employer may choose to notify you personally via a phone call, it’s important that you also receive a letter in which the lifting of your suspension is confirmed.
If, for some reason, you decide to take legal action against the company at some point in the future, you’ll need as much evidence in writing as possible. Also, you’d want this letter to be added to your employee file.
In most cases, a suspension is lifted with immediate effect, which means that you’ll be required to return to work soon after you’ve received communication from the company. The letter should contain the date you’re expected back at work.
The fact that you may receive a short notification to return to work is one of the reasons it may not be a good idea to take leave during suspension.
A Return-To-Work Meeting
Since you may have many unanswered questions and points of concern to discuss once you get back to the office, you should insist on a return-to-work meeting if your manager does not invite you to one. During this meeting, you should be open regarding your concerns and any grievances you may have.
In the event that your manager and/or HR manager respond to your questions and grievances in an understanding and respectful way, you may find it easier to put the suspension behind you and move on. They will need to provide you with clarity regarding why you were suspended and why the case against you was then dropped.
It’s also important that everyone is on the same page regarding the way forward. If you’re unsure regarding what’s expected of you at work, ask for regular performance review meetings in which your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be established and assessed, so that you and your manager have clarity about your performance and progress.
You Can Claim Back Pay
In most cases, employers should pay employees their full salary while on suspension because of the fact that they have no other means of earning money during this period.
Details regarding suspension, such as whether you’ll receive full payment or not, should typically be included in your work contract. In lieu of a contract, the company’s policies regarding suspension will apply.
In the event that your employer suspends you without pay and you’re eventually asked to return to work, you’re entitled to ask for back pay for the entire period in which you were suspended. It would be best if you also double-checked that you received all other benefits during this period, such as relevant bonuses and added leave days.
If the employer is not willing to pay you or is dragging their feet, you should have a chat with your lawyer regarding your rights. They can either negotiate a settlement on your behalf or you could embark on a legal claim against the company.
Once it gets to this stage, it may be a good idea to start looking for another position, since you’d probably have lost a lot of trust in and respect for your employer.
Coworkers Will Talk
Once you return to work, you may notice that some coworkers don’t make eye contact or go to great lengths to avoid you. Others, again, may approach you directly to ask what happened to you, especially if your suspension was for a long period of time.
No matter where you work, coworkers will certainly gossip and have their own opinions and takes on what actually happened.
The best way to deal with gossip is to tackle it head-on. During your return-to-work meeting, you can ask your manager to call a team meeting where your suspension and the fact that your name was cleared should be openly discussed.
Coworkers should be provided with an opportunity to ask questions and point out their concerns during this meeting, so that the air can be cleared.
You should also prepare for the possibility that your clients may ask questions about your absence.
To ensure that you act professionally and according to the company’s policies and regulations, discuss this matter with your manager or an HR representative before you meet with clients. They will provide you with guidelines regarding what information you may or may not share.
Things May Have Changed
You should also mentally prepare for the fact that after you return from your 30-day suspension from work, or whatever period you were gone for, things may have changed at work.
It’s likely that the company did not hire a temp to fill your position while you were gone, and that the other members of your team would have taken over your duties.
If this is the case, you’ll need to reestablish yourself in the team, especially if you find that they actually coped OK without you.
To ensure that this transition takes place smoothly, your manager should organize a meeting in which they provide clarity as to what tasks and projects you are responsible for. If you find that your duties and tasks have changed, you should ask for a new job description.