Who can accompany an employee during a disciplinary?

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Employees or anyone who falls under the Worker category has a statutory right to be accompanied if they are invited to a formal meeting by their employer i.e. disciplinary hearings, grievance meetings, redundancy consultations. The person is referred to as a companion.

ACAS suggest that the companion is either a fellow colleague or a Trade Union Representative or Official. Their role is to ask questions on behalf of the employee, help the employee by taking notes for them, address the meeting, advise the employee, provide moral support and to act as another pair of ears to take in all the information that may be discussed at the meeting. What the companion can’t do is to answer on behalf of the employee.

The Company disciplinary and grievance procedures should state clearly who an employee is allowed to bring with them as a companion. Some employers may consider a spouse or where a younger worker is involved their parent/guardian to accompany the employee. However there is no obligation to allow family and friends to act as companions but the point to bear in mind is to be reasonable.

Other considerations to bear in mind is if the employee is unwell or disabled then it may be appropriate to allow the carer to attend as a companion to the formal meeting. As an employer this would be a reasonable adjustment to cater for that employee.

At times the companion may not be able to attend the meeting on the date suggested by the employer. The meeting should then be rescheduled within five working days of the original date to allow the employee to have their chosen companion attend the meeting with them.

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