Acas published an updated Code of Practice for dealing with Disciplinary and Grievance issues on Wednesday (11 March 2015), which you can see here.
The new Code has been updated to clarify workers’ statutory rights to be accompanied by a trade union representative or fellow worker at a disciplinary or grievance hearings, following the EAT decision in Toal and another v GB Oils Ltd.
In Toal v GB Oils Ltd, the EAT held that an employee’s right to choose a companion is an absolute right, which is subject only to the requirement set out in the Employment Relations Act 1999 that the companion be a trade union representative or fellow worker.
However, the previous version of the ACAS Code, stated “To exercise the right to be accompanied a worker must first make a reasonable request. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of each individual case.”
The new Acas Code says “The statutory right is to be accompanied by a fellow worker, a trade union representative, or an official employed by a trade union. A trade union representative who is not an employed official must have been certified by their union as being competent to accompany a worker. Employers must agree to a worker’s request to be accompanied by any companion from one of these categories”.
Under legislation, employees may receive compensation for a breach of the right to be accompanied, up to a maximum of two weeks’ pay, if they complain to an Employment Tribunal.
No other parts of the ACAS Code have been changed. If you have any questions please let us know!