A worker’s right to be accompanied at disciplinary or grievance hearing meetings and hearings is an issue that can cause confusion for employers. There are a number of key points to note:
- A worker has the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing
- A worker does not have the right to be accompanied at investigatory meetings or redundancy consultations. However, the employer may choose to allow the worker to be accompanied
- A worker can be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing by a trade union official/representative or a colleague (“companion”)
- A worker does not have the right to be accompanied by a solicitor
- Where a worker opts to bring a work colleague to a disciplinary or grievance hearing, the employer should allow the worker’s chosen colleague time off work for the purpose of attending the hearing
- A worker’s companion will be permitted to address the hearing to do the following: put forward the worker’s case; sum up that case; respond on the worker’s behalf to any view expressed.
- A worker’s companion can also confer with the worker during the hearing.
- The worker’s companion is not permitted to answer questions on behalf of the worker.
- The worker’s companion should not prevent the employer making its case or any other person at the hearing making their contribution.
An employer who prevents a worker from exercising his or her rights or threatens to do so can face a penalty of up to two weeks’ wages. It could also lead to a finding of unfair dismissal.
PRE TERMINATION SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS
The ACAS Guidance encourages employers to allow employees to be accompanied at meetings involving pre-termination settlement discussions. However, it is not a legal requirement to do so.
Please let us know if you require any advice in respect of employment law.