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Harrow Borough Council say suspended staff members paid not to work are entitled to a "fair hearing"
Harrow Borough Council has admitted it has been paying ten members of staff not to work for an average of more than four months.
This follows figures from a Freedom of Information request by Harrow East MP Bob Blackman showing the council has spent more than £660,000 on 97 suspended staff between April 2009 and February 2012.
The council said all staff are entitled to a “fair hearing” and revealed that currently ten suspended employees are receiving full pay and they have been absent for an average of 125.5 days.
Jon Turner, the authority’s divisional director for HR, said: “Everyone is entitled to a fair hearing in accordance with our disciplinary policy and although the number of staff currently suspended is high it is comparable with previous years and we would expect other London councils to be in a similar position.
Last week Mr Blackman said the situation was “utterly ridiculous” and said the problem was only getting worse with some cases taking over a year to be dealt with.
The Harrow East MP claims that one council employee who was accused of gross misconduct and subsequently dismissed, received £44,000 during an investigation lasting 284 days.
Another staff member who was also dismissed was paid £16,000 during a suspension which lasted 176 days.
In January it was revealed that the authority had paid a suspended senior education officer who was under investigation by the police £137,000 for two and a half years.
The council said the length of the process was largely out of their control because of the pending police investigation.
Mr Turner added: "An employee of the council was suspended pending a 12 month investigation by the police before any charges were made and a subsequent criminal trial took place eight months later.
“The individual was acquitted but following a further council investigation is no longer an employee of the council.”