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Topic: Disciplinary, capability and dismissal

letter refusing choice of companion
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Letter refusing choice of companion

Letter refusing choice of companion

Use our letter refusing choice of companion to decline a worker’s request to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing where they have purported to select someone who falls outside the statutory categories of companion. Be careful though where the worker is disabled.

Statutory requirements

Section 10(3) of the Employment Relations Act 1999 states that a worker’s companion at a disciplinary or grievance hearing must be one of the following: (1) employed by a trade union of which they are an official; (2) an official of a trade union 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 (3) another of your workers. What it means is that the worker cannot bring their mother or father or any of their other family or friends (unless, of course, they also happen to be a work colleague). Neither can they bring their lawyer or other legal representative. However, provided the worker makes a reasonable request to be accompanied at the hearing, they have the absolute right to choose whoever they like as a companion, so long as they come from one of the statutorily defined categories of companion.

Declining a request

Our Letter Refusing Choice of Companion identifies the worker’s purported chosen companion and then sets out the statutory categories of companion, before going on to advise the worker that, as their chosen companion does not fall within any of the defined categories, they are not permitted to attend the hearing. It concludes by inviting the worker to select an alternative companion who does meet the relevant criteria and then to notify the chair of the hearing in advance of the identity of their new chosen companion. You are under no obligation to decline an accompaniment request in writing but obviously it’s better to do this to avoid misunderstandings and to minimise the risk of the worker turning up with an inappropriate companion and then the hearing having to be postponed.

Disability dangers

Be aware that where the worker has a disability, it may be a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010 to allow them to be accompanied by someone who falls outside the statutory categories. For example, if they have learning difficulties, it might be reasonable to allow them to be accompanied by a care worker, or, if they are deaf, by someone who can do sign language. Each case will turn on its own circumstances so do not just decline a request out of hand without considering the particular position.



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