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Who can accompany you to a disciplinary meeting

This advice applies to England

When your employer asks you to go to a disciplinary or dismissal meeting, you can be accompanied to that meeting by a colleague or trade union representative.

This page tells you more about what you need to do if you want someone to come with you, what they can do and what to do if your employer refuses to let you bring anyone with you.

When do you have the right to be accompanied?

You have the right to bring someone with you to a disciplinary meeting. This is a meeting which can lead to disciplinary action. Taking someone with you is called the right to be accompanied. Disciplinary action could be :

  • a first or final warning
  • suspension without pay
  • demotion
  • dismissal.

Your employer only has to allow certain people to accompany you.

When can't you be accompanied to a meeting?

You do not have the right to be accompanied to an informal chat with your employer or to an initial fact-finding or investigatory meeting. This is a meeting where your employer tries to find out what has happened.

Even though you do not have a legal right to be accompanied, you can ask your employer to let you bring someone with you but they do not have to agree to this.

Who can accompany you

If you are asked to go to a disciplinary meeting, you have the right to be accompanied by:

  • a colleague
  • a trade union representative, or
  • an official employed by a trade union.

You don't have a right to bring anyone else. You can ask your employer if someone else can accompany you, but they don't have to agree to this. They may have a policy of allowing a wider range of people to come with you.

The person who comes with you is called your companion.

You should also check your contract and your employer's procedure on disciplinary meetings, as these say who you are allowed to bring with you.

Possible companions if you're disabled

If you're disabled, your employer has to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your disability. It may be a reasonable adjustment for your employer to allow someone else, such as your carer to accompany you.

What if you are not a member of a trade union?

You do not need to be a member of a trade union. You can ask an official from any trade union to come with you. The union doesn't have to be recognised by your employer.

What do you need to do if you want to be accompanied?

If you want to be accompanied, you must ask your employer. It is best to do that in writing so that you have a record that the disciplinary or dismissal procedure has been followed.

Your employer does not have to let you be accompanied unless you ask to be.

What can your companion do?

Your companion can:

  • take notes on your behalf
  • present your case
  • sum up your case
  • talk things over with you during the hearing.

Choosing someone to come with you to a disciplinary meeting

When you choose someone to come with you to a disciplinary or dismissal meeting, it is a good idea for your companion to be someone calm, who will take good notes, who understands what their role will be and who will help to find a constructive solution.

What if your companion can't make the date of the meeting?

If your companion can't make the date of the meeting, you can ask for the hearing to be rearranged. It should be rearranged for a reasonable time after the original date.

What if your employer refuses to let anyone come with you?

If your employer refuses a reasonable request to be accompanied by a colleague, trade union representative or official, you should point out that you have a legal right to be accompanied.

If you are unable to put your case across or would find it hard to do so because of disability or because of language problems, you should argue that it would help your employer as well to have someone there to help you.

If your employer still refuses, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal. If you win, the tribunal can give you compensation of up to two weeks' pay. There is a limit on how much a week's pay can be. This is currently £450.

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