Rights to be accompanied on disciplinary and grievance hearings (Clause 11-14)

Workers are given an important new right to be accompanied on disciplinary or grievance hearings. This applies to workers whose employers have disciplinary or grievance procedures which provide for a hearing: employers who do not have procedures are not compelled to adopt them.

The right is to be accompanied by a "companion" of the worker's choice who may be a colleague or a trade union official. The companion is permitted to confer with the worker during the hearing and to address the hearing (but not to answer questions on the worker's behalf).

The right only applies where the worker "reasonably requests" to be accompanied. The worker is entitled to a postponement of up to five working days so that the companion can attend. The right on grievance is confined to circumstances where the grievance concerns "the performance of a duty by the employer in relation to a worker".

The remedy for a breach is compensation of up to two weeks' pay. Workers and those acting as companions are protected against dismissal or detriment for exercising their rights under this section. Rights of time off are given in order to act as a companion.