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What is the role of a companion in a disciplinary and grievance meeting?

We often find that when it comes to disciplinary and grievance procedures, employers are unclear about the role of a companion at the meeting.

All workers have a right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague of their choice. Failure to allow the employee to bring a companion may lead to an automatic unfair dismissal claim and also a separate compensation claim for failure to allow a companion.

The right to be accompanied does not apply to informal discussions or investigatory meetings, although an employer may choose to grant an employee’s request to be accompanied at any meeting.

If the companion is a colleague, the employer must give that person time off work to attend the hearing.

The role of the companion

The law states that the employer must permit the companion to do any or all of the following:

  • address the hearing
  • put or sum up the employee’s case
  • respond on the employee’s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing
  • confer with the employee during the hearing.

The employer should not allow the companion to answer questions on behalf of the employee.

If it is not reasonably practicable for the companion to attend a meeting then the employer should re-schedule it. The employee must propose an alternative date within five days and, if acceptable, the employer must then invite all parties to attend at this new time.

If you would like clarity on this or any other HR management issue please contact the ProAktive HR team on 01302 341344.

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