I have been certified by the GMB as a “workers companion”. This role is defined in the Employee Relations Act 1999. Section 10 states that for meetings at which a sanction may be levied or at grievance hearings, the worker must be allowed to bring a companion who shall be an accredited trade union representative of the employee’s choice or a colleague/co-worker. Over the last week, there has been some confusion on the employer side in two cases of what such a companion may or may not do. I thought that with reference to the legislation, I would explain.
This companion must be allowed to address the hearing, “in order to do any or all of the following, put the worker’s case, sum up that case and respond on the worker’s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing”. They must also be allowed to confer with the worker during the hearing. The ACAS web page says that a companion may also take notes.
These rights belong to any companion whether a trade union representative or a co-worker. Employers may choose to deny employees the right to appoint friends and family, or lawyers the right to attend these meetings although in some employment contracts employees maybe supported by other professionals including representatives of professional associations.
The section of the law also regulates the timing and the right to a postponement if a representative is unavailable.
I hope this helps someone.
N.B. This applies to UK law.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.