In the interest of impartiality, it’s often best to put someone accused of improper behavior on leave during an investigation. This allows the investigation to go forward untainted by the presence of an interested party.
Employers often wonder how to administer such leave and frequently assume they should place the employee on a disciplinary leave. This is not a good approach. To put someone on disciplinary leave prior to finding fault could create liability for the employer, giving the impression that the investigation is partial and unfair, instead of fair and impartial.
Instead, I advise employers to put an employee on administrative leave, or at the very least, investigative leave. To initiate it, write them a letter or email that explains the expected duration of the leave, the fact that the leave is paid, who to call with questions, and that they are expected to report when directed to meet with the investigator. Paying for the leave and providing an explanatory letter not only mitigate liability for the employer, but also help the employee know exactly what steps are going to take place, so they can understand an upsetting and difficult process.
If you have any other questions about workplace investigations, please let me know. I am happy to help you during a trying time.