You’ve just heard the news: You are under disciplinary investigation and are suspended from work. While you sit at home with nothing to do, one BIG question will pop up, “I have been suspended from work, should I resign?”
We will help you navigate the unique challenge of getting suspended at work and whether or not you should resign. But first…
What is work suspension?
This usually means your employer temporarily removes you from the workplace to investigate a disciplinary issue. This implies several things:
- You are still employed but won’t take part in any work for a certain period. Your employer should tell you how long the suspension will last.
- Unless stated in your Contract of Employment, you should receive full pay while waiting for your suspension period to end.
- You keep all your employment rights. You can demand the reason for suspension, answer allegations against you, and all that.
- There will be a conclusion to the investigation – either you are not guilty of the charge, you’ll have to go through a disciplinary procedure, or you will get fired.
What causes suspension from work?
Carol Eliason Nibley, an HR Executive, says that the three main reasons for employee suspension are “poor performance, misconduct, and serious incidents”. Another cause can be health or safety reasons. For example, if there is no alternative, an employer may suspend a pregnant employee if the workload harms her or the baby.
What should I do when I’m suspended from work?
According to the career expert company Zippia, you can make your suspension go as smoothly as possible by doing the following:
- Communicate with your employer.
- Establish expectations with your employer before you return.
- If necessary, apologize for any misconduct and work to do better.
- Attend Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training.
💡If you feel your suspension was unfair, be sure to check out our related article “Unfairly Suspended From Work? Here’s What You Can Do“ for additional steps you can take.
Can I resign while suspended?
Common answer: Yes, you can. Since 74% of workers in the US are “at-will” based, most employees can choose to resign at any time. However, if you’re unsure, review your Contract of Employment for any policies about suspensions and resignations or ask your employer if this is an action you can take.
Should I resign if I am suspended from work?
The dilemma: OK, I am suspended at work, will I get fired? And if I do, that will give me a bad name for any prospective employer. I should just resign now to save face.
That’s reasonable thinking. However, it’s always best to stick around. And here’s why…
It proves you are not guilty.
If there is a charge against you at the workplace and your immediate reaction is to resign, then that says a lot about whether you are guilty or not. If you stand your ground and go through the whole disciplinary process, then it shows that you are confident that you did no wrong.
You still get employment benefits.
Remember, being suspended from work doesn’t mean you’re unemployed. In most cases, you still get full pay and full benefits. It’s just that, for a certain period, you won’t do any work. It’s a good idea to keep that security while you plan your next step.
It doesn’t help with job references.
The reason why people think “I have been suspended from work, should I resign?” is that they don’t want prospective employers to know about their disciplinary issue, so they resign before a conclusion is even made. However, your employer can choose to add “resigned with a pending disciplinary action” in your reference to your new employer.
Martin Brewer, an employment law specialist, puts it this way, “You need to be aware that if an employer is going to provide a reference, that reference must be true, fair and honest. Importantly the reference should not be misleading. This means that even if you resign before the disciplinary hearing any reference could refer to the fact that you were the subject of an investigation and that there were pending disciplinary proceedings when you resigned. For balance, the reference may go on to say that you denied any wrongdoing (if that’s the case).”
The disciplinary process may go on.
Even if you quit now, that doesn’t mean your employer will drop the disciplinary process. They can choose to push through with it during your notice period. In this case, they can even still dismiss you for gross misconduct.
You can negotiate an agreement.
Ending your employment relationship in the middle of a crisis can have negative effects. It can ruin the employer-employee relationship. But if you go through the whole investigation, even if the conclusion is that you will be fired, you can negotiate an agreement with them to leave with a good reputation.
You can preserve your rights.
If your suspension involves discrimination, harassment, or any illegal activity, staying through the whole process will give you the right to file a legal claim.
What happens if I resign during an investigation?
“It’s a common misconception that an employee’s notice of resignation isn’t valid unless it has been “accepted” by the employer. The truth is that whether they want to or not, employers cannot reject someone’s resignation if they have provided the appropriate amount of notice.” – Worknest.com
If you decide to resign during an investigation, then no one can stop you. However, how you resign will have different results.
If you have to give a resignation notice, then the disciplinary process might continue. The good news is that you’ll have enough time to look for a new job.
If you resign with immediate effect, then your employer can no longer discipline you. The downside is that you’ll stop working immediately and lose your job security.
In this situation, the wisest thing you can do is get professional advice from an employment law attorney or specialist. They will help you navigate the pros and cons, as well as any legal aspects of resigning during an investigation.
What happens if I resign after an investigation?
Even if you are not dismissed and you’re allowed to go back to work, you may feel like resigning is the best move for you. Maybe going back after a misplaced charge will add tension between you and your employer or coworker.
Since your suspension and investigation are already done, you can resign without problems. This is why, if you want to resign, do it AFTER the investigation.
How do I return to work after being suspended?
“I have been suspended from work pending investigation and am now allowed to go back to work, but I feel awkward and upset“. This is very common for those who are allowed back, whether they were proven not guilty or have gone through the disciplinary process/hearing.
If this is you, here are some ways you can return from a suspension:
- Be open and honest. If you keep everything inside, that might lead to a tense relationship with your employer or coworker. Instead, make sure to talk about your feelings and the effects of the suspension.
- Request a meeting to smoothen the rough edges. This will allow you and your employer to talk about the investigation results, the charge, and lingering issues before you continue working.
- Ask your employer to relay the news to the others. This will prevent you from being the center of work gossip.
- Put in the effort. Prove to your employer that you value the company and will work hard despite the work suspension hanging in your name.
💡For more advice on returning to work after a suspension, check out our related article “Has Anyone Returned To Work After Suspension? Here’s What To Expect“.
I have been suspended from work, should I resign? No, it’s best to stick around and go through the investigation and disciplinary hearing and process. If you no longer want to stay, then the best decision is to resign AFTER everything is said and done.