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Employment issues.

Byline: Joe Michna

THE RIGHT TO BE ACCOMPANIED Q

If a worker has to attend a disciplinary meeting or hearing at work, what rights does that employee have to take along somebody to help them at the meeting or hearing?

A Section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 gives a legal right to all workers who are required to attend a disciplinary hearing to be accompanied by either a trade union official or a fellow worker.

this right to be accompanied also apply to grievance hearings?

QDoes A If a worker is taking up a grievance with his/her employer, then he/she also has a right under the same law to be accompanied by a trade union official or a fellow worker.

Q Does a worker have any legal rights to take anyone other than a fellow worker or trade union official to a disciplinary or grievance meeting? A

A worker does not have an automatic legal right to take to a disciplinary or grievance hearing anyone other than a trade union official or fellow worker. However, this is a matter for the discretion of the employer and some employers may be prepared to allow other people such as relatives of the employee to attend a disciplinary or grievance meeting.

Q What is the role at these meetings of the person accompanying the employee?

A The role of the companion at disciplinary or grievance meetings is to help the employee put his/her case to the employer, to respond to any views and opinions expressed at the meeting and to confer with the employee during the meeting and to address the meeting. The companion is not allowed to answer questions on the employee's behalf unless this is agreed by the employer.

Q What if an employer refuses to allow an employee to be represented at a disciplinary hearing?

A Refusing to allow a worker to be accompanied could lead to a finding of automatically unfair dismissal if the worker is dismissed as a result of the disciplinary hearing and makes a claim of unfair dismissal to an Employment Tribunal. In addition, a worker denied the right to be accompanied can make a free-standing claim to an Employment Tribunal if denied this right whether she/he has been dismissed or not.

Q Does a worker have to have worked for an employer for a certain length of time in order to have the right to be accompanied?

ANo.

The right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing applies from day one of a worker's employment.

* Your local CAB can provide further advice and information on al Employment Law matters. There are CABs located in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton.
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 26, 2009
Words:455
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