Time to talk about a sexy topic here at the Capitalist. Let's talk about... wait for it...Paid Suspension, or Suspension with Pay for you sticklers to detail.
Why is this on my mind? There's a high school football coach near my home who's been on paid leave (another term for what we're talking about). He was put on leave for an alleged physical altercation with one of his players DURING practice. I know, an altercation with a kid isn't a great sounding thing. I don't know all of the details...Remember that it was during practice. 20+ witnesses at least. That becomes important as you consider paid leave.
Suspension with pay is the scarlet letter that's hard to remove once you've stitched it on someone's shirt. Here's what I know about the difficulties of administering it:
1. Generally speaking, you only put someone on paid leave if you're pretty certain that they might be terminated from the company once you do your investigation. Others will tell you that you use it to make sure there's no crazy stuff during your investigation, like a fight or the individual in question manipulating witnesses regarding what you have to investigate. That's fine, but you still only put them on leave if you think there's a good chance you're terming.
2. Putting someone on leave means that the pressure is on you to conduct and wrap up the investigation very, very quickly. The clock is ticking.
3. There's an organizational reality to how long someone is on paid leave and whether they can come back and do their job again, especially if they're a manager of people. If you're going to bring them back and reinstate them to their job, you better get the investigation wrapped up in 2 days or less. If you let it drag on, you're reducing the person on leave's ability to do their job effectively once they come back.
People talk. Guilt is assumed. The longer someone's out on leave, the more they'll be viewed as broken by those around them once you bring them back into the fold.
Which is why you should only use paid leave if you're relatively sure someone's going to get terminated, or you really, REALLY need time and a clean shot at running the investigation.
The high school football coach I mentioned? He's been on paid leave for 4 weeks. He's released statements talking about what happened and the fact he wasn't at fault to the press. The investigation should have taken a max of two days to interview and make a call on employment.
4 weeks? The school can't bring him back now (it won't work), and if he's relatively innocent, those who made the decision to put him on leave and drag out the decision just cost the school district at least 100K, if not more, in settlement charges.
Paid leave - don't do it unless you 1) are sure you're going to term, and 2) can wrap the investigation up in 2 days.