The Right to be Accompanied to a Disciplinary or Grievance Meeting
13 July 2016
If you are facing a disciplinary meeting/hearing at work in England or Wales, you have legal rights and this includes the right to be accompanied during the meeting. These rights are laid down in law, so you should know and understand exactly what this means for you.
Also, if you have a grievance to raise with your employer, you also have the right to be accompanied at the grievance hearing. Most people are not sure who they are allowed to have accompany them at the meeting and often don't know they can take anyone at all.
In this article we review the right to be accompanied whether you are facing a disciplinary meeting/hearing at work or you are raising a grievance with an employer.
Employment Disciplinary Meeting
You do have a legal right, also known as statutory right, to be accompanied in an employment disciplinary meeting. If the disciplinary meeting might lead to a formal warning or other disciplinary action being taken against you by an employer, you have the right to be accompanied.
Your employer should make you aware of this right when they write to you to inform you about the disciplinary meeting. It's also really important that you check the disciplinary policy at your work to find out more about who can attend the meeting with you as your employer may have additional stipulations in their disciplinary and grievance policy.
Employment Grievance Meeting
If you've raised a grievance at work about an issue or problem that you've been unable to resolve informally, then you have the right to be accompanied at your employment grievance meeting.
Your employer has to tell you about your right to be accompanied. They may do this verbally, but they should also send you a letter outlining all these details when they inform you about the grievance meeting.
Their Disciplinary and Grievance policy will outline who can accompany you.
Who Can Accompany Me?
When you have a statutory right to be accompanied, you'll need to know who can come with you as a companion at your meeting.
Your companion must either be another employee at the company, a trade union employee or a certified trade union representative.
You are not legally entitled to take a family member or friend into a meeting, but you can make the request to your employer to see if they will allow it. If they do, then you can but remember they don't have to agree to your request.
If your grievance was serious and went to an Employment Tribunal, they would consider whether your request was reasonable, whether it was fair to refuse your reasonable request and if the refusal put you at a disadvantage.
Can I Take a Legal Representative?
Most of the time you are not legally entitled to take a legal representative with you to a meeting, unless you've got permission from your employer.
But there are times such as at a formal hearing, where your livelihood is at stake in a relevant industry (e.g. the care industry), that you might be allowed.
If your employer refuses to allow you legal representation in a meeting where any decision they make at the meeting could result in a legal bar from pursuing a career in that industry, you could ask your employer if you could have legal representation.
Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights could be considered as this could allow you to have a legal representative as a companion in these circumstances.
What Can a Companion Do?
Your companion is only allowed to do certain things in a disciplinary or grievance meeting. They are allowed to introduce your case and sum up your position.
They can also speak to you throughout the meeting. But you should be aware that your employer needs to complete the meeting in line with their policy so your companion cannot obstruct the meeting, disrupt your employer's points or answer questions on your behalf.