The Right to be Accompanied

Section 10 of the Employee Relations Act 1999 entitles workers in the UK – with the RIGHT to be accompanied to a formal hearing

The Right to be accompanied – FAQ’s

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.
You have the right to bring someone with you to any meeting with your employer, which may result in formal action being taken against you. This includes, but is not limited to disciplinary action. Taking someone with you is called the right to be accompanied. Examples of such action could be:
  • a first or final warning
  • suspension with or without pay
  • demotion
  • dismissal.
However, in these circumstances your employer must only allow certain people to accompany you.
Not all situations entitle you to be accompanied. 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. Although 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.
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. However, you can ask your employer if someone else can accompany you, but they are not required by law to agree to this. They may have a policy of allowing a wider range of people to come with you, or they may make an exception based on mitigating circumstances. The person who accompanies you is referred to as your companion.
If you intend to exercise your right to be accompanied, you should inform your employer in advance of your hearing. It is preferable to do this in writing to document that you have given this notice in advance.
Your companion can:
  • take notes on your behalf
  • present your case
  • sum up your case
  • talk things over with you during the hearing.
Whereby you do not have to be accompanied by a trade union official, we recommend that you do not make this decision lightly. Being represented by an expert in work place disputes and employment law will provide you with the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
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.
If your employer refuses a reasonable request to be accompanied you should point out that you have a legal right to be accompanied. If your employer maintains their position, 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 another reason why it is important to document when you notify your employer of your decision to exercise your right to be accompanied.