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Who can accompany workers to grievance hearings?

A recent ruling from the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has clarified the rules about who workers can choose to bring with them to grievance hearings.

In a case concerning a dispute between two workers and an employer over their choice of companion for a grievance hearing, the EAT found that the workers had the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing by any companion as long as he or she falls into one of the approved categories listed in the Employment Relations Act 1999. These include trade union officials, certified union representatives or fellow workers.

The dispute centred on whether the workers' choice had to be 'reasonable' or whether it was only the 'request to be accompanied' that had to be reasonable. The employer relied on an interpretation of the Acas Code to argue it was not reasonable to have as a companion someone who could be prejudicial to the hearing.

The EAT ruled that there was no requirement for the choice of companion to be reasonable, as long as the choice came from an approved category.

Acas will be amending its Code to reflect the EAT decision.

The Acas Code is accompanied by a non-statutory guide, called pdf  Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide [852kb], which provides good practical advice for dealing with discipline and grievance in the workplace. Acas also runs training courses on many areas associated with Discipline and grievance. If you need free expert advice on dealing with a discipline and grievance matter in your workplace, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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