Fellow workers or trade union officials do not have to accept a request to
KEYS TO HANDLING GRIEVANCES IN THE WORKPLACE 49 3 accompany a worker, and they should not be pressurised to do so. Trade unions should ensure that their officials are trained in the role of acting as a worker’s companion. Even when a trade union official has experience of acting in the role, there may still be a need for periodic refresher training. Employers should consider allowing time off for this training. A worker who has agreed to accompany a colleague employed by the same employer is entitled to take a reasonable amount of paid time off to fulfil that responsibility. This should cover the hearing and it is also good practice to allow time for the companion to familiarise themselves with the case and confer with the worker before and after the hearing. A lay trade union official is permitted to take a reasonable amount of paid time off to accompany a worker at a hearing, as long as the worker is employed by the same employer. In cases where a lay official agrees to accompany a worker employed by another organisation, time off is a matter for agreement by the parties concerned. Applying the right Where possible, the employer should allow a companion to have a say in the date and time of a hearing. If the companion cannot attend on a proposed date, the worker can suggest an alternative time and date so long as it is reasonable and it is not more than five working days after the original date. Before the hearing takes place, the worker should tell the employer who they have chosen as a companion. In certain circumstances (for instance when the companion is an official of a non-recognised trade union) it can be helpful for the companion and employer to make contact before the hearing. The companion should be allowed to address the meeting in order to: ● ● put the worker’s case ● ● sum up the worker’s case ● ● respond on the worker’s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing ● ● confer with the worker during the meeting. The companion can also confer with the worker during the hearing. It is good practice to allow the companion to participate as fully as possible in the hearing, including asking witnesses questions. The employer is, however, not legally required to permit the companion to answer questions on the worker’s behalf, or to address the hearing if the worker does not wish it, or to prevent the employer from explaining their case.
DISCIPLINE AND GRIEVANCES AT WORK – THE ACAS GUIDE 50 Workers whose employers fail to comply with a reasonable request to be accompanied may present a complaint to an employment tribunal. Workers may also complain to a tribunal if employers fail to re-arrange a hearing to a reasonable date proposed by the worker when a companion cannot attend on the date originally proposed. The tribunal may order compensation of up to two weeks’ pay.
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- Fall '16
- Farah Nabilla
- representative, disciplinary problems, acas code