The right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings: nine things to remember

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When inviting a worker to a disciplinary or grievance hearing, the employer should inform the worker of his or her statutory right to be accompanied during the following hearing. Employers should ensure that they understand the rules on allowing a companion at such a hearing.

Here we set out nine things you need remember when dealing with a worker’s right to be accompanied:

1. Not every disciplinary or grievance hearing attracts the right to be accompanied

Does an employee have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official at an informal meeting to discuss minor misconduct?

Do employees have the right to be accompanied at disciplinary investigation meetings?

For the purpose of the right to be accompanied how is a disciplinary or grievance hearing defined?

2. A worker’s request to be accompanied must be reasonable

What is a “reasonable” request by a worker to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

Who can be chosen as a companion at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

Can an employer reject an employee’s choice of companion for a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

3. You should never pressurise a chosen companion to carry out the role or discourage them from doing so

Is a fellow worker or trade union official obliged to accept a request to accompany a worker at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

Good practice manual > Handling discipline > Permitting a companion at a disciplinary interview

4. If the companion is unavailable at the time proposed for the disciplinary or grievance meeting, there is a statutory duty to rearrange the meeting within five days

What happens if the companion is not available at the time chosen for a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

5. The companion should be allowed reasonable paid time off to carry out the role

Does a fellow worker have the right to time off to act as a companion at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

Time off work > To accompany at disciplinary and grievance hearings

6. Make sure you understand what the companion can and can’t do at the hearing

Can a worker and union representative agree that the representative will answer all questions put to the worker at a disciplinary hearing?

Right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings – the role of the companion

7. You should carefully consider any requests by an employee going through the disciplinary process for additional or legal representation at the hearing

Is there any right to legal representation at a disciplinary hearing?

8. If the employee going through the disciplinary or grievance process has a disability, you may need to make reasonable adjustments such as allowing a companion from outside the normal permitted categories

Is an employer breaching the Equality Act 2010 if it fails to make adjustments for a disabled person?

How to handle the situation where an employee goes off sick during a disciplinary process

9. There may be consequences if you refuse a worker the right to be accompanied

What redress is available if an employer fails to permit a worker to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

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