Code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures to be amended

Acas is to amend its "Code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures" following a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling.

If a worker ‘reasonably requests’ to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing they have a statutory right to a companion. In the recent case, the employer had refused two employees' request to be accompanied at a grievance meeting by a particular union official.

The employer argued to the tribunal that the word "reasonably" applies to the choice of companion as well as the request to be accompanied. However, the EAT found  that there is no requirement for the choice of companion to accompany an employee to a disciplinary or grievance meeting to be reasonable, so long as the companion falls within one of the permitted categories (i.e. he or she is a fellow worker or trade union official).

The Tribunal therefore rejected the current guidance in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, which states that "it would not normally be reasonable for workers to insist on being accompanied by a companion whose presence would prejudice the hearing nor would it be reasonable for a worker to ask to be accompanied by a companion from a remote geographical location if someone suitable and willing was available on site". This has led to ACAS announcing that the guidance will be updated.

If you need help with disciplinary or grievance procedures or are facing an employment tribunal claim, please contact Vaishali Thakerar at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000.

View all