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What do you do if an employee is facing criminal charges?

If you are an employer, and you have an employee facing criminal charges – unrelated to the business - you may ask yourself “what implications will this have on the business?” The answers may lead many employers to suspend the employee in question until there is a conviction or the charges are dropped to avoid bad press or protect a reputation.

In many cases where a suspension is implemented, there is a question of payment during the suspension. However, an article posted on Canadian Employment Law Today, poses another question – was the suspension even necessary?

You can read the full story on the publication’s website. A quick summary is that a tech employee was accused of internet luring, and was not allowed to use any computers or the internet. Later, the employee was allowed temporary use of technology for work related purposes only.

In this situation, the employer suspended the employee during the investigation. While this is probably an expected decision, the lawyer for the employee pointed out that a suspension should only be used if there are no other alternatives. Meaning, the employer needed to prove that there was no other way to keep the employee around during a criminal investigation without harming the business. Alternatives to suspension include changing an employee’s duties, or getting them to perform another job altogether.

Employers do have the right to protect the interests of their business. They also have the right to withhold pay during a suspension under special circumstances. If you have questions about what to do with an employee facing criminal charges unrelated to the business, it’s best to consult with a lawyer experienced in employment law. He or she will be able to advise you on what rights you have as an employer, and what rights the accused has as an employee.

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