If you are attending a disciplinary hearing, you may wish to take a companion along with you for support. Please read on to find out more.
We often receive calls from concerned clients asking whether they can take someone along to their disciplinary hearing for support. This blog therefore aims to answer the following commonly asked questions:
- Do I have to take someone with me to my disciplinary hearing?
- I want to take someone with me to my disciplinary hearing; who can I chose?
- I want a family member to attend my disciplinary hearing, what should I do?
- Can my solicitor attend my disciplinary hearing with me?
- How do I request a companion at my disciplinary hearing?
- What happens if my companion is unable to attend the disciplinary hearing?
- What can my companion do in the disciplinary hearing?
Whilst this blog considers the specific questions above, if you are facing disciplinary allegations at work, you may also find our other blogs helpful. Please see here – https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/work-disciplinary/ and https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/preparing-for-a-disciplinary-meeting/.
Do I Have To Take Someone With Me To My Disciplinary Hearing?
As detailed below, you may be legally entitled to take someone to your disciplinary hearing. However, this does not mean you are obliged to do so. You can, of course, attend your disciplinary hearing alone.
However, here at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we always recommend that our clients take someone with them to their disciplinary hearing. We understand that employees worried about the possible ramifications of their disciplinary hearing, understandably, find the whole process very difficult.
With this in mind, our clients often find that having someone at their disciplinary hearing to offer support relieves some of this stress and anxiety. However, of course, it is completely your choice.
I Want To Take Someone With Me To My Disciplinary Hearing, Who Can I Chose?
When dealing with disciplinary proceedings, your employer should follow their own disciplinary procedure (if they have one) and, in any event, the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
Also, if your disciplinary hearing could lead to some sort of disciplinary action being taken against you (e.g., a written warning or dismissal), you have a legal right to be accompanied by one of the following people: –
- A Trade Union Representative; or
- An official employed by a Trade Union; or
- A work colleague.
Importantly, this means that your legal right to be accompanied does not extend to, for example, family members or friends.
I Want A Family Member To Attend My Disciplinary Hearing, What Should I Do?
If you would like a family member or friend to attend your disciplinary hearing, you should: –
- Check your employer’s own disciplinary procedure. This may allow a wider range of people to accompany you in the disciplinary hearing. If so, make sure your employer follows their own procedure!
- Even if your employer’s disciplinary procedure is silent on the matter, you can still ask your employer if someone else can accompany you. Again, whilst you do not have any legal right in this regard, your employer may nevertheless agree to your request.
Furthermore, if you have a disability (for example, a mental health condition), being accompanied in your disciplinary hearing by a family member or friend may be considered a reasonable adjustment. For more information about reasonable adjustments, please see our blog here – https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/disability-discrimination-what-are-reasonable-adjustments/.
Can My Solicitor Attend My Disciplinary Hearing With Me?
As above, generally, there is no legal right to have a legal representative (for example, a solicitor) present at your disciplinary hearing.
However, there is a very limited exception to this rule where the potential disciplinary outcome would have a substantial impact on your ongoing career outside of a particular job or employer, for example by preventing you from continuing practising in your profession.
Even if there is no legal right for your solicitor to attend, your employer may grant permission for them to do so in any event.
How Do I Request A Companion At My Disciplinary Hearing?
Before requesting a companion at your disciplinary hearing, you should check your employer’s disciplinary procedure (if they have one). If this details how to request a companion, you should follow their procedure.
In any event, your request for a companion should be reasonable. For example, if you want a work colleague to accompany you at your disciplinary hearing, your employer is likely to expect you to choose someone who is available, for example not on holiday, maternity leave, sick leave etc.
You should also give your employer enough time to make the necessary practical arrangements. Ideally, you should make your request to your employer in writing, and you should provide your employer (if possible) with the name of your chosen companion.
What Happens If My Companion Is Unable To Attend The Scheduled Hearing?
Firstly, it is important that you and your companion make every effort to attend your scheduled disciplinary meeting. If you repeatedly refuse to attend your disciplinary hearing, you risk it being held in your absence.
If, however, your companion is unavailable at the time of the scheduled hearing, you should ask for the hearing to be postponed and suggest an alternative time. You should ensure that:
- your suggested time is reasonable; and
- not more than five working days after the original proposed date.
If both of the above conditions are met, your employer must postpone your disciplinary hearing.
What Can My Companion Do In The Disciplinary Hearing?
There is a common misconception that a companion must sit silently throughout a disciplinary hearing. However, this is not the case. In fact, your companion can do the following: –
- Address the hearing (as long as you also address the hearing); and
- Sum up your case; and
- Respond on your behalf (but only to representations in the hearing); and
- Confer with you during the hearing; and
- Make notes throughout the hearing.
Your companion must, however, tread a fine line. Whilst they are permitted to do the above, they should not answer questions on your behalf; address the hearing if you do not want them to or prevent your employer explaining their case.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
We always hope the information on our website is helpful. However, if you are subject to disciplinary action, we advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you would like a free consultation with one of team at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, simply use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email email@example.com or call us on 01522 440512 and we’ll be happy to help.
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