Can an employee be put under preventive suspension for an indefinite period of time?
Preventive suspension is a prerogative which an employer may exercise pending the administrative investigation of an erring employee, in order to prevent the latter from inflicting further harm against the person or property of the employer or his/her co-workers.
In the case of Philippine Airlines, Inc. vs. National Labor Relations Commission (G.R. No. 114307, July 8, 1998), the Supreme Court had the occasion to explain preventive suspension in this wise:
“Preventive suspension is a disciplinary measure for the protection of the company’s property pending investigation of any alleged malfeasance or misfeasance committed by the employee. The employer may place the worker concerned under preventive suspension if his continued employment poses a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of his co-workers.
Sections 3 and 4, Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code provides:
Sec. 3. Preventive suspension. – The employer can place the worker concerned under preventive suspension if his continued employment poses a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of his co-workers.
Sec. 4. – Period of suspension. – No preventive suspension shall last longer than 30 days. The employer shall thereafter reinstate the worker in his former or in a substantially equivalent position or the employer may extend the period of suspension provided that during the period of extension, he pays the wages and other benefits due to the worker. In such case, the worker shall not be bound to reimburse the amount paid to him during the extension if the employer decides, after completion of the hearing, to dismiss the worker” (Underscoring supplied).
It is clear, based on the foregoing discussions, that an employer cannot impose upon his/her employees a preventive suspension for an indefinite period of time. The most that can be imposed is 30 days. The employer may, however, extend the said period, provided that the employee is paid his/her wages and other benefits due to him/her after the lapse of the said 30 day period.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
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