In certain circumstances, your employer may need to suspend you from work for health and safety reasons. This article outlines your rights if that happens, looks at how you'll be paid and what happens if you're pregnant.
Your employer has a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure your health and safety. This means they can suspend you from work if they think you may be at particular risk. For example, you may be suspended if you become seriously allergic to a chemical at work, or if you're a newly expectant mother working in a lab that uses radiation. Your employer's decision should be based on a risk assessment.
You won't have the right to paid suspension on medical grounds if, for example:
If you've been in your job for a month or more when you're suspended, you have the right to be paid for up to 26 weeks of suspension. The pay should be equal to a normal week's pay. However, if you're offered other suitable work, you must take it – otherwise you lose your right to be paid.
There may be rules for medical suspension in your contract of employment. If they say you're to be paid while suspended, you should make sure the actual amount isn't less than a normal week's pay. If it is, your employer must make up the difference.
If you don't want to return to work while suspended, refusing other suitable work ends your right to pay. This includes work that may not be included in your contract of employment.
Your employer must make a special assessment of the risks to pregnant mothers and their babies. If there are risks, your employer must protect you and your baby by:
There can be extra risks to the health of pregnant night workers. If you have a medical certificate saying that there's a risk, you should be offered suitable day work. If none is available, you can be suspended until the risk to health has passed. If you refuse reasonable alternative work, your employer doesn't have to pay you.
For more information, see our '' section.
If your own health is involved, talk to your GP.
If you disagree with your employer, you should use the grievance procedure set out in your contract. If there is nothing set out in your contract, see our '' section.
Check you're getting the right amount of pay. Your contract or statement of employment will say whether your employer can pay you differently during suspension.
You may wish to contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) for advice if you're still unhappy (see contact details below). As a last resort, you can complain to an employment tribunal (or industrial tribunal in Northern Ireland).
If you have any concerns about your health and safety, you can: