Freedom of choice: EAT confirms selection of companion does not need to be reasonable

In July 2013, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) held that an employee’s choice of companion for a disciplinary or grievance hearing does not need to be ‘reasonable’ but that compensation for a breach of the right was likely to be low.

That decision has now been re-confirmed in Roberts v GB Oils Ltd, even though the EAT had some concerns about the problems that the decision could cause for employers.

The employee was invited to a disciplinary hearing following allegations of misconduct. He asked to be accompanied to the hearing by a lay trade union official. The employer refused to allow the employee to be accompanied by his preferred companion (for reasons that are not set out in the judgment) but allowed him to be represented by another more senior trade union official. The employee complained that his right to be accompanied by his chosen companion had been breached…

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