ACAS revised guidance on accompaniment at disciplinary and grievance meetings

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It had previously been thought that a worker’s request would not be reasonable if the choice of companion was unreasonable (and this was reflected in the ACAS Code) but in the case of Toal and another v GB Oils Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that a worker’s right to choose their companion (within the statutory categories) is absolute.

The revised ACAS Code also confirms that a worker can change their choice of companion if they wish, and can do so without waiving their right to change their choice again.

It is worth noting that compensation for breach of the right to be accompanied is limited to two weeks’ pay so freestanding complaints are unlikely. However, employers should be aware that there is a wider risk involved in breaching the ACAS Code on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures because this can result in an uplift in compensation of up to 25%. In a discrimination case, employees could use an employer’s failure to allow them their choice of companion to bolster their complaints.