Being hauled up before the boss at a disciplinary hearing can be a scary business. To prevent staff being ambushed, the ACAS code on disciplinary procedures recommends allowing the employee to be accompanied by a trade union rep or colleague. Employers' failure to allow representation often results in dismissals being found unfair. But what if the staff member hasn't completed one year's service or isn't an employee and so can't bring a claim for unfair dismissal? Help is in sight.
The law changes on 4 September. All 'workers' will have the right to be accompanied by a companion at disciplinary and grievance procedures.
This nominee can address the hearing and confer with the worker, but cannot answer questions on his or her behalf. A tribunal can award up to two weeks' pay if the employer refuses this right. The companion must be a certified trade union rep or fellow staff member.
Michael Burd and James Davies at Lewis Silkin, solicitors. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.