Any worker (that is any employee, but on occasions this can include people providing services under a contract), has the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative of his choice at internal discipline procedures and grievance procedures hearings.


A disciplinary hearing is one which could result in the administration of a formal warning, the taking of some other action, or confirmation of a warning. This means that even an informal warning may count giving the employee the right to be accompanied if that warning is likely to be logged on the employee record.


Because the references are to a trade union representative of the employee’s choice, it follows that the employee need not be a member of that trade union. Indeed the trade union representative might perfectly well be a friend or relative, providing he or she is legitimately on a trade union payroll or an elected official and is certified by the union as a trained “companion”.


The companion is allowed to address the hearing and “confer with the worker during the hearing”, but is not permitted to answer questions on behalf of the worker. Addressing the hearing includes putting the workers case, summing it up or responding to a view expressed.