Why Leeds council suspended staff 73 times in five years and how much they were paid

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Dozens of Leeds City Council staff have been suspended over the past five years, some of whom were investigated for issues such as child protection, harassment and corrupt or improper practice, the YEP can reveal.

The figures, obtained via a freedom of information request, also showed that the local authority spent more than £1m on wages for employees who were suspended over that period.

The council claims that only a very small number of its staff have fallen foul of its code of conduct, and that it endeavours to create a “positive work environment” for its staff.

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A regional organiser for public sector union Unison said the organisation was working with the authority to simplify its suspension system - but stressed they had a good working relationship with the authority.

Leeds Civic Hall. Picture: Tony JohnsonLeeds Civic Hall. Picture: Tony Johnson
Leeds Civic Hall. Picture: Tony Johnson

Following a data request to the council, the local authority confirmed that 73 instances of suspension took place between 2014/15 and 2018/19. When asked for types of offences that led to the suspensions, the council listed ‘child protection’, ‘corrupt or improper practice’ and ‘criminal or other conduct’.

Other offences included damage to authority property, falsification, racial or sexual harassment and verbal/physical abuse.

Meanwhile, the data request also reveals that the authority spent £1,236,831.38 on pay for staff during their suspensions over the five-year period.

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The information request stressed that the suspensions related to less than 0.5 per cent of its staff.

Graphic showing Leeds City Council suspensions.Graphic showing Leeds City Council suspensions.
Graphic showing Leeds City Council suspensions.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Leeds City Council works extremely hard to create a positive working environment for all our staff.

“All staff must abide by Leeds City Council’s code of conduct, and only a very small number have been subject to formal disciplinary action.

“The council has an established disciplinary procedure if an allegation of breach of conduct has been made which fully reflects good practice, and all cases are fully investigated.

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“When required, appropriate action will be taken by the council.

“This includes the option in a small minority of cases to suspend a member of staff before a disciplinary hearing takes place. If a decision is taken to dismiss an individual following a disciplinary hearing, an appeal procedure is also available.”

When asked for more details regarding investigations, the council said it did not comment on individual cases.

It also confirmed that investigations into staff conduct typically took under three months.

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Dean Harper, a regional organiser at unison, stressed that, while thorough investigations must take place into serious allegations, many lower-level offences should not require staff suspensions.

He said: “It’s in nobody’s interests to be suspended but we do have a good working relationship with Leeds City Council. Each circumstance dictates how long an investigation takes – if it’s a child protection issue, that can be a complex case – what we don’t want is for something that is quick that is not done in a robust manner.

“But there are also circumstances where, for example, someone may have shouted at someone in the workplace, someone complains and that ends up in a suspension for something that ends up being quite low-level and nothing happens.

“We are in the process of looking at disciplinary policy to try and resolve matters on an informal basis.

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“We want to make sure that suspensions are not unnecessarily long and for staff to continue to do meaningful work.”

A list of offences staff were suspended/investigated for:

Child protection

Corrupt or Improper Practice

Criminal or Other conduct

Damage to property

Disobedience of Orders



Improper use of IT System

Neglect of duty

Racial or sexual harassment


Verbal or physical abuse