The Employment Rights Act (1999) outlines a statutory right for workers to make a reasonable request to be accompanied at a Disciplinary or Grievance hearing. A reasonable request did not constitute an individual traveling from remote places according to the current ACAS Code of Practice, however, a recent ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the case of Toal and another v GB Oils went against this. This has called the ACAS Code of Practice Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures into question.
ACAS have revised their Code of Practice to include the following. During a Disciplinary and Grievance situation, if the employee makes a request to be accompanied, and providing they have made a reasonable request to be accompanied, they have the right to choose whoever they like as a companion. As long as the companion is from one of the categories set out below (section 10 of ERA 1999):
a) is chosen by the worker and is within subsection 3;
b) is to be permitted to address the hearing (but not to answer questions on behalf of the worker); and
c) is to be permitted to confer with the worker during the hearing.
A person is within subsection 3 if he is:
a) employed by a trade union of which he is an official within the meaning of sections 1 and 119 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992;
b) an official of a trade union (within that meaning) whom the union has reasonably certified in writing as having experience of, or as having received training in, acting as a worker’s companion at disciplinary or grievance hearings; or
c) another of the employer’s workers.
The draft Code has been approved by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and is pending Parliamentary approval.
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