The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures states that where an employee is invited to a formal disciplinary or grievance meeting they are entitled to bring a co-worker or a trade union representative with them as their companion, as long as they make a “reasonable request” to do so.
Traditionally this has been interpreted as referring to the identity of the companion.
On this basis the employer would be able to refuse if, for example, the companion was involved in the same investigation and may prejudice the hearing, or if they lived in a very unsuitable geographical location and someone else was available close by.
However, a recent case has confirmed that this is not the case.
As long as the employee makes the request, and the companion they request is a co-worker or a trade union representative, they are free to choose whomever they wish and the employer must agree to it.
The revised draft of the Code has now been published to reflect this clarification and it means that employers will have to review and possibly update their disciplinary and grievance polices.
Posted by: Clare Nicolaou Employment lawyer, Novalex Solicitors