Workers have a statutory right to be accompanied in a disciplinary hearing (or any meeting where a formal warning will be issued, some other disciplinary action will be taken or in appeal hearings) by a fellow worker, a trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union. Employers must agree to a request from a worker to be accompanied in a Disciplinary Hearing by any companion from one of these categories.
The March 2015 ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures amends the right to be accompanied in a Disciplinary Hearing by
- making it explicit that employers must agree to a worker’s request to be accompanied by any companion from one of these categories
- giving workers the right to alter their choice of companion but they must choose a companion who is suitable, willing and available on site (rather than someone from a geographically remote location for example).
To exercise the statutory right to be accompanied in a disciplinary hearing a worker must make a “reasonable request”. What is reasonable will inevitably depend on the circumstances of the individual case. If the worker’s chosen companion will not be available at the time proposed for the hearing the employer must postpone the hearing to a time proposed by the worker (provided that the alternative time is reasonable and not more than 5 working days after the original proposed date).
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