RIGHT TO BE ACCOMPANIED
Under the ACAS Code of Practice an employee can only be accompanied at a formal meeting (disciplinary and grievance or formal appeal) by either a fellow worker or a trade union representative.
We have often been asked why the present regulations do not allow for an employee to take an external adviser into their meeting. The present rule (above) is outdated and often unworkable. It leaves an employee under stress and isolated, approaching a formal meeting with apprehension, trust issues and reservations. Not a good start!
What about the employee who is not a union member?
What about cases where the Union rep is conflicted out?
What about the employee who cannot get a union rep ‘flown in’ in time to get to grips with his/her case?
What about the employee (a non TU member) who has been suspended and is barred from talking to colleagues?
What about the colleague who has no legal expertise and fears repercussion
What about the employee who has been off work for weeks or months with work-related stress. These employee’s have often lost contact with colleagues and/or feel unable to approach them?
We have even come across cases where the employee claims that the bully boss forbade them from speaking to anyone at work. This tends to happen in non-unionised organisations more than you might think !
There definitely needs to be a review of the right to be accompanied laws.
It our view, provided the employee can afford it, they are given the option to chose who they want to accompany them and the options should open up to include Solicitors, HR professionals, mediators or other professional advisers (not family members).
Confidentiality agreements may be drawn up.
Why, who knows! This approach may enable fresh ideas and suggestions to be brought to the table early on, to prevent matters from escalating.