Question Time: Disciplinary Meetings and the Support Person
2 July 2020
In our new Question Time Series, we answer some of the frequently asked questions received by our Employment Relations Specialists. In this edition we look at the role of a support person in disciplinary meetings.
Q: Is an Employer Required to Offer an Employee the Opportunity to have a Support Person in a Disciplinary Meeting?
A: There is no positive obligation on an employer to offer an employee the opportunity to have a support person at a disciplinary meeting. However, in an unfair dismissal claim, if determining whether a dismissal was “harsh, unjust, or unreasonable”, the Fair Work Commission may find an employee was not given “procedural fairness” if an employer unreasonably refused an employees’ request to have a support person present. Although an employer does not have to offer, it is recommended to tell employees, in writing, they can bring a support person with them, so there is no doubt that the employee is being afforded procedural fairness.
Q: What is the Role of a Support Person During Disciplinary Meetings?
A: Due to the difficult and stressful nature of disciplinary meetings, an employee can be accompanied by a support person. This individual helps to observe the meeting, take notes, and provides emotional support and comfort for the employee. However, they cannot represent the employee or advocate on their behalf.
The person leading the meeting should clarify at the outset that the support person should not speak on behalf of the employee. They can speak with the employee. If the support person starts answering questions, they should be reminded of the limits of their role.
A support person may be a lawyer, union official or a friend. A colleague or another employee may also act as a support person but to ensure absolute confidentiality, this is not usually recommended.
For any members who would like further information or have any questions, please contact us on 9390 5255 or email@example.com.
Disclaimer: CCER does not give legal advice and this information should not be taken as such.