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Who can accompany you to a disciplinary meeting

This advice applies to England

You can 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 you can't be accompanied

You don’t have the right to be accompanied to either:

  • an informal chat with your employer
  • an initial meeting where your employer tries to find out what happened

Even though you don’t have a legal right to be accompanied, you can ask your employer to let you bring someone with you - but they don’t have to agree to it.

Who can accompany you

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

  • a colleague
  • a trade union representative
  • an official employed by a trade union

You don't usually 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 might 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're allowed to bring with you.

If you're disabled

Your employer has to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your disability. It could be a reasonable adjustment for your employer to allow someone else to accompany you, such as your carer.

If you’re not a member of a trade union

You don’t 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.

If you want to be accompanied

You must ask your employer. It's best to do it in writing so that you have a record that the disciplinary or dismissal procedure has been followed.

Your employer doesn’t have to let you be accompanied unless you ask to be.

What your companion can 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

It’s a good idea for your companion to be someone calm, who will take good notes. They should understand their role and help find a constructive solution. 

You employer isn’t allowed to say who should accompany you - it’s your choice.

If your companion can't make the date

You can ask for the hearing to be rearranged. You should suggest a date and time that’s ‘reasonable’, which means it’s both:

  • when everyone involved is usually at work and available
  • within 5 working days of when the meeting was originally due to take place 

If you make a reasonable suggestion your employer has to agree to it.

If your employer won’t 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’re 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 2 weeks' pay. There’s a limit on how much a week's pay can be - this is currently £525.

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