A WORCESTERSHIRE solicitor warning county firms may find themselves paying out substantial damages if they rush to suspend staff where allegations are made against them.

In Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth it was reaffirmed that, although employees can be suspended when there is reasonable and proper cause, suspension is not a neutral act, particularly where it relates to qualified professionals with a vocation whose reputation can be damaged.

The High Court concluded that suspension was adopted as the default position, was a knee-jerk reaction, and amounted to a repudiatory breach of contract.

Ashley Gurr, employment partner at Kerwoods, is warning extra care should be taken is dealing with similar situations.

Mr Gurr said: “It is often the case that, where there is deemed to be potential misconduct, the employer does immediately jump to an immediate suspension in order ‘to conduct an investigation'.

“It is interesting to see that the courts have concluded that, particularly for certain professions, this could be deemed a breach of contract in itself owing to the potential reputational issues for the affected employee.

“As ever, the moral of the story is that before acting in haste, take professional legal advice."