It is not a typo.
Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied to a grievance or disciplinary hearing by either a trade union representative or colleague.
If an employer prevents an employee from doing so, they will be liable to pay compensation of up to two week’s pay.
In the recent case of Gnahoua v Abellio London Ltd, the Employment Tribunal held that that Mr Gnahoua’s rights to be accompanied had been breached.
He had been dismissed after he had been caught looking at his iPad whilst driving his bus and had appealed the decision.
Although he was initially represented by Unite at his disciplinary hearing, he requested to be accompanied by his two brothers (both PTSC union officials) at his appeal.
Due to historical issues with the brothers in question (threatening behaviour and allegations of dishonesty), Abellio did not allow them to accompany him. Abellio did however say that he could be accompanied by anyone else.
Mr Gnahoua attended alone. His appeal was dismissed and he subsequently brought a tribunal claim.
The Tribunal found that there had been a technical breach, but only awarded nominal compensation of £2. Why such a small amount?
1) No loss or detriment had been suffered
2) The disciplinary hearing had been conducted in considerate and thorough fashion.
Whilst the sum, I am sure, is offending to the Claimant, the principle of the facts of the case are important for employers.
In order to avoid any significant claim for detriment if they have been found to breach such statutory rights, employers must show they they have followed a clear and thorough process.
It would be wise to seek legal advice prior to deciding whether to refuse an employee’s request to be accompanied to a disciplinary or grievance hearing.