Mrs H contacted Which? Legal for advice on a grievance meeting that she was about to attend.
She told our lawyers that she was due to attend a grievance meeting and did not have anyone at work that could attend it with her. She wanted to know whether she could bring a friend along.
Our lawyer advised that the right to be accompanied at grievance hearings says the companion can be a trade union official/representative, or workplace colleague. Whilst there is no legal obligation on an employer to allow anyone else to attend, some employers do and so she should check her employer’s Grievance Procedure. Even if the procedure doesn’t say anything, there was no harm in asking if they would allow a friend or relative to attend.
Although the legal right to be accompanied is limited to work colleagues or union officials/representatives, there may be situations where it would be advisable for the employer to allow a friend or relative to attend. For example, for someone with a learning disability it could be a reasonable adjustment, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, to permit a family member to accompany them at a grievance hearing to help the employee understand and fully participate in the proceedings. A failure to make such an adjustment to the process may well be regarded as discriminatory.