In some circumstances, it may be necessary to remove an employee from the workplace pending the outcome of a personnel/HR investigation. A temporary reassignment or administrative leave/investigatory suspension may be appropriate as an interim measure for at least two reasons: (1) to allow the investigation to proceed without disruption of evidence, or (2) to preserve a safe, orderly, and professional work environment. The terms “administrative leave” and “investigatory suspension” mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably.
Although the provision for “investigatory suspension” appears only in the AFSCME contract, the principles for administrative leave/investigatory suspension may be applied to any employee.
For administrative leave/investigatory suspension to be warranted, both of the following conditions must be met:
- Management has a reasonable belief that an employee’s continued presence in the workplace raises concerns about the University resources, disruption in the workplace, or the health, safety, or welfare of the employee, other employees, or students/patients/customers, and
- Management is initiating an investigation and the individual’s presence in the workplace may impact the investigatory process.
Circumstances may occur in which the need to remove an employee is emergent and obvious (e.g., when an employee commits an act of violence). In such cases, staff should contact the Department of Public Safety by dialing 911 for aid in removing the employee from the workplace. Where the need is less pressing, departments are urged to consult with their unit HR representatives, University HR and/or the Threat Assessment Team prior to removing the employee from the workplace.
Application of Rules During Leave/Suspension
Because the employee remains in paid status during an administrative leave/investigatory suspension, University work rules and policies continue to apply. For example, the employee must remain available during that employee's scheduled shift. If an employee is unavailable without notice and authorization, the employee may be regarded as absent without leave and subject to progressive discipline up to and including termination. Departments should work with their unit HR representatives and University HR to communicate these rules and expectations in writing to the employee in a timely manner.
Finally, pursuant to Article IV, Section 9 of the AFSCME collective bargaining agreement, management may recover the pay provided to the employee during the period of paid suspension, consistent with the disciplinary action. For example, if an employee is placed on a paid administrative leave/investigatory suspension for two days while the investigation is conducted, and management then determines that a one-day suspension is warranted, one of the two days of paid administrative leave/investigatory suspension can be retroactively converted to an unpaid disciplinary suspension.
Article IV, Section 9 of the AFSCME contract provides, in part:
"Whenever the Employer determines that an employee must be removed from a current work assignment pending the completion of an investigation by the Employer to determine if disciplinary action is warranted, the Employer may:
1. Reassign the employee to another work assignment at their current rate of pay for up to twenty-one (21) calendar days, or
2. Suspend the employee from work for up to twenty-one (21) calendar days.
If the employee is suspended under number two (2) above, the employee shall be in pay status at their current rate of pay. If, at the completion of the investigation, the Employer decides that suspension or discharge is warranted, the Employer shall have the right to recover the pay provided during the period of suspension under number two (2) above, consistent with the disciplinary action."