When an employee has a formal disciplinary hearing there is no actual statutory right for them to have legal representation.
However, it has been argued that an employee’s legal right should extend to legal representation.
Currently workers have a legal right to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union official of their choice at any formal disciplinary interview, but not to a legal representative. Conversely, there is nothing to prevent an employer from granting a contractual right to legal representation at disciplinary hearings.
Doctors employed by the NHS are contractually entitled to be represented by a qualified lawyer at disciplinary hearings commenced on the grounds of capability or conduct in order to “Maintain high professional standards in the NHS”.
Whether or not to allow an employee to be accompanied by a lawyer will generally depend upon the individual factual situation.
Where an employee asks for the permission for legal representation, the gravity of the allegations and the consequences for the employee all need to be considered carefully by the employer when making a decision.
The employer also needs to take into account the potential for a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence between employer and employee.
Employers need to ensure that staff who conduct disciplinary hearings are kept up to date with developments on how to deal with workers’ statutory right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings.
For advice on any Employment matter call our Bradford Solicitor and Employment Law specialist Umberto Vietri on 01535 613 674 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Partner and Employment Specialist
Tel: (01535) 613 674