Does a fellow worker have the right to time off to act as a companion at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

Yes, an employer must permit a worker to take a reasonable amount of paid time off during working hours to act as a companion to another of its workers. While this should obviously cover time off for the hearing itself, the Acas guide on discipline and grievances at work advises that it is good practice to permit time off for the companion to familiarise him- or herself with the case and confer with the worker whom he or she is accompanying both before and after the hearing.

The right to a reasonable amount of paid time off extends to lay trade union officials, so long as the worker being accompanied is employed by the same employer. Where a lay official agrees to act as a companion for another employer's worker, time off is a matter for agreement between the parties concerned.