There is a statutory right for a worker to be accompanied to a disciplinary or grievance hearing where the worker reasonably requests to be accompanied.
The only exemption from this right is for employees of the Security Services MI5, MI6 or GCHQ.
[section 15 Employment Relations Act 1999]
This right allows the worker to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union official. This person is allowed to:
The companion cannot answer questions on behalf of the worker.
The employer is not entitled to restrict the choice of the workers companion or to refuse a particular companion if they meet the criteria in the Act:
If the workers chosen companion is not available for the meeting then the worker can propose a new time for the meeting. If the new time is reasonable and within 5 days after the original meeting then the employer must postpone the meeting to the new time.
Time off work for the companion
An employer must permit the companion to take time off work to accompany the worker.
What if the employer refuses to allow a companion?
A worker can make a claim to an Employment Tribunal that his employer has failed or threatened not to allow a companion at a disciplinary hearing. This claim must be made within three months of the failure or threat. A tribunal can award up to two weeks pay subject to the statutory limit on a week's pay.
If the worker is also an employee and is dismissed the failure to allow a companion may strengthen a case of unfair dismissal.
Protection from detriment or dismissal
Both the worker and the companion are protected from being dismissed or subjected to some other detriment because they have excercised the right or agreed to be a companion.
If the worker is dismissed because they have exercised their rights they can apply for interim relief.