The issue

Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative to a disciplinary or grievance meeting. Two employees were refused the right to be accompanied by their valid choice of companion so they elected to (and did) attend with another. The employees made a complaint.

The ruling

The right to be accompanied is absolute. The employer cannot reject the employee's chosen companion. However, compensation for a breach of this right is not intended to be punitive nor a minimum sum, so nominal compensation of £2 may be appropriate if the employees have not suffered any loss.

Comment

It is good practice to remind workers of their right to be accompanied and invite them to exercise that right. Failure to do so may make an otherwise fair procedure unfair. Employers should seek advice before objecting to a particular choice of companion.

Toal and another v. GB Oils Ltd UKEAT/0569/12. A link to the case is here.