It is standard practice, when an employee asks to bring a friend, family member or lawyer to a disciplinary meeting to recite the response of "you are entitled to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative". This, in most cases, remains the best course of action.
However, in recent years there have been a number of cases in which the courts have determined that allowing only the presence of a work colleague or trade union representative, when an employee has asked for legal representation, is not enough.
Essentially, where an employee's ability to carry out their profession may be impacted on by an unfavourable outcome at a disciplinary hearing, they can be accompanied by a legal advisor if they wish.
The situations where this applies are still very limited, but, as a basic check list:
- where the outcome of a disciplinary needs to be reported to a governing body; and
- where the governing body has the ability to remove the employee's right to work in their profession; and
- where the disciplinary is likely to have an influence on the governing body's decision.
Currently, these cases are limited to those situations where an employee can be banned from their profession; however, as this is further developed by the courts, we would not be surprised to find that in all cases, where the allegations are such that it could prevent an employee working again, an employee should be allowed legal representation during the disciplinary process.