Section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 states that the right to accompaniment applies where a worker is required or invited to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing, and reasonably requests to be accompanied at the hearing.
Paragraph 36 of the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the worker must make a reasonable request, and that what is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. It goes on to say that it would not normally be reasonable for workers to insist on being accompanied by a companion whose presence would prejudice the hearing or from someone with a remote geographical location if someone suitable and willing was available on site.
In Toal v GB Oils Limited, the EAT have ruled that a worker's right under s10 is not to be further explained by Paragraph 36 of the Acas Code, and rejects the guidance it gives.
The effect of this EAT ruling is that employers will not be able to rely on the advice given at Paragraph 36 of the Code and it should be disregarded. Click here to read the full case report.