Respected seniors This is Ramu working as Manager-HR. My query is - is it justified to suspend a workman for 10 days against his misconduct after conducting a preliminary inquiry? I have been asked to issue a suspension order by Plant Head. Kindly advise me on this issue.
Your response may be highly appreciated.

From India, Vijayawada
Did the employee who is to be suspended have an opportunity to present his case in the preliminary enquiry what is the nature of misconduct
From India, Chennai
KK!HR
1044

Imposing a punishment on the basis of preliminary enquiry is premature as the Principles of Natural Justice are normally not complied during the preliminary enquiry. But if the charges are clearly communicated to the employee and the deliquent has unambiguously admitted the charges, then punishment can be imposed.
If the suspension for ten days is being imposed as the punishment for misconduct, then it is to be regulated as is provided in the rules applicable, be it your Standing Orders or else the Model Standing Orders. Even otherwise the employer has an inherent right to suspend an employee.

From India, Mumbai
Thanks for your valuable suggestions
From India, Vijayawada
This is by way of further note to what Mr.KK!HR has correctly stated direct to the query raised.

The object of the preliminary enquiry is only to find out whether a prima facie case is made against the employee and as such a preliminary enquiry is just advisable or desirable but not a statutory obligation.
Since it is only a fact finding investigation done by the employer before framing a charge of misconduct, it is not necessary to afford an opportunity to the employee in the preliminary enquiry and it can be done behind the back of the employee.
As such a preliminary enquiry is purely an informal one and not subject to any rules whereas a domestic enquiry is a formal one subject to the rules of natural justice and the findings of the enquiry officer who is other than the disciplinary authority is the basis for the punishment to be awarded to the delinquent or otherwise.
Therefore, whether the delinquent employee involved in any way in the process of preliminary enquiry though admits the misconduct, in my considered opinion, he cannot be straight away punished without issuing a formal charge sheet. Of course, if he admits the charges unconditionally, the process of domestic enquiry can be skipped and punishment can be awarded.

From the above analysis of the process and position of a preliminary enquiry in disciplinary proceedings, it is not justifiable to award the punishment of 10 days suspension as proposed by the Plant Head. Since this would be a punitive suspension, the entire period of suspension would be break in service.

Therefore, the poster may revert back to the Plant Head with a polite note incorporating all the above legal points.

From India, Salem
Dear Colleague,

I generally share the views of the learned colleagues.

Preliminary enquiry is for fact finding step before issuing the chargesheet.

No punitive action can be taken before full opportunity in the domestic enquiry is given as per principles of natural justice.

I have not come across provision of 10 days suspension by way of punishment in either the Standing Orders or Service Rules. Maximum suspension is provided is for 4 days under the Model Standing Orders.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
Thank you very much sir for your valuable inputs
From India, Vijayawada

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