HR & Employment Law Insights

Helping family businesses, start-ups, charities, social enterprises, and other growing or established businesses throughout the UK make sense of HR and Employment Law challenges.

We get asked HR related questions every day and each week we will be sharing our top question of the week that we have been asked here at The HR Booth.

In this week’s question of the week, Alistair explains what role Trade Union Representatives have at disciplinary investigations.

QUESTION

What role does a Trade Union Representative have at a disciplinary investigation?

ANSWER

Employees have the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing. They can choose to be accompanied by a co-worker or a union representative. In larger organisations, often, the union representative will be a workplace representative who is also a co-worker. In the cases of SMEs, where in most cases there is no union representation, the trade union representative will be an official outside of the company. Even if you don’t recognise a trade union, if the employee is a member of the trade union, they have the right to be accompanied by the TU official.

A trade union ‘official’ has a particular meaning and must either be an ‘officer’ of a trade union, or someone who has been properly elected or appointed to be a representative of its members. You can ask for written confirmation of this from the trade union concerned, and this is normally done at the introduction stage of the meeting.

The Trade Union Representative can present and/or sum up your employee’s and say things to support their case. They can confer during the hearing but cannot answer questions on their behalf. The Trade Union officials are normally very balanced and objective, and providing you follow our guidance in relation the meeting there is nothing to be concerned about.