ACAS code consultation: Disciplinary & grievance procedures

companionWhat do we already know?

We updated you in our November 2013 Newsletter, ACAS Code: Disciplinary and grievance procedures, that ACAS had said it would amend its Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures to reflect the EAT’s decision in Toal and another v GB Oils Ltd.  The EAT ruled in that case that employees had an absolute right to choose their companion for a grievance hearing, provided the individual is a relevant union representative or work colleague. Employers cannot refuse a particular companion on the grounds that their presence is unreasonable.

What’s new?

ACAS has launched a consultation on the amendments that it proposes to make to the Code of Practice to reflect the EAT’s decision in Toal.

ACAS acknowledges there is a need for amending the Code of Practice as it does not make it clear that employees may choose whoever they like to be their companion (provided they come from one of the defined categories of companion). The proposed replacements for paragraphs 15 and 36, which are set out in full in the consultation paper, simply make this choice explicit.

The proposed wording also indicates that workers will be expected to properly consider how they go about making their request so that “it is clearly understood and provides enough time for it to be considered by the employer”.

ACAS has invited comments on the revised paragraphs, as well as on the question of what “making a reasonable request” might or might not involve. The consultation closes on 7 January 2014.