EAT decision: workers have free choice of companions at disciplinary and grievance meetings

By Kevin McCavish

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) demonstrates the latitude that employers must give workers in choosing companions to accompany them at disciplinary and grievance meetings.

Under section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 (ERA 1999) a worker has the statutory right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing by a companion of their choice who is either: a paid official of a trade union; an unpaid official of a trade union who is certified as competent to act as a companion, or; another of the employer’s workers.

In the event that the worker’s chosen companion cannot attend the hearing at the time proposed by the employer, the meeting must be postponed for a reasonable amount of time, subject to a limit of five working days…

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