Employees have the legal right to be accompanied at certain meetings in the workplace, a right provided under sections 10-15 of the Employment Relations Act 1999. The law states that where a worker is required to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing and the worker reasonably requests to be accompanied at that hearing, the employer must allow them to be accompanied by a 'single companion’.
The meetings that are covered by this right are:
· Formal disciplinary hearing (any hearing where a warning is to be issued, other disciplinary action is to be taken, or a sanction is confirmed, such as an appeal hearing) - it will include hearings that may lead to dismissal if they are related to misconduct or capability issues
· Formal grievance hearing
There is no legal right to be accompanied at an investigatory meeting, or in redundancy situations, such a consultation meeting or a meeting to confirm someone's redundancy termination. The employer may still allow the employee to be accompanied at such meetings but it is not a legal right.
Finally, when it comes to the choice of companion, the worker is only entitled to be accompanied either by a trade union representative or a workplace colleague. There is no right to be accompanied by family, friends or any legal representatives, such as lawyers. This is regardless of who attends on the employer’s side.
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