Posted Date: 22nd June 2022

When you invite an employee to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing, employees have a right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a colleague at that meeting. You should inform them of this right in the invite letter. Your policy may also allow friends or family, which you must follow.

Their request to be accompanied must be reasonable, for example if the person could be prejudice to the decision, or their geographical location makes it impossible to attend, you could ask them to choose someone else.

Otherwise, you must not interfere with their chosen person, you can’t say no to one colleague but yes to another, unless for the above reasons.

You must also make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, such as allowing a support worker to attend as they help the employee with their disability.

There is no right to be accompanied in investigation meetings or informal disciplinary meetings.

What if the companion can’t attend?

If their chosen person cannot attend at the proposed time, you must postpone the meeting to a time and date agreed with the employee, as long as the proposed date is no more than five working days later.

What can the companion do?

Companions are not legally allowed to answer questions on the employee’s behalf, but can confer with the employee, take notes, and set out or sum up the employee’s case

Failing to allow a companion to attend

If you fail to allow an employee to be accompanied, it could lead to an automatic unfair dismissal claim.

If a tribunal finds that an employee has been unfairly dismissed, you might be ordered to:

  • reinstate them (give them their job back)
  • re-engage them (re-employ them in a different job)

You might also have to pay compensation, which depends on the employee’s:

  • age
  • gross weekly pay
  • length of service



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