Is a fellow worker or trade union official obliged to accept a request to accompany a worker at a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

There is no obligation on a worker's chosen companion to agree to accompany him or her to a disciplinary or grievance hearing. Employers should not pressurise a chosen companion to refuse or accept a worker's request. Where a worker who is asked to act as a companion expresses concern about doing so, the employer should make it clear that there will be no adverse consequences for him or her of acting as companion.

Equally, union officials are not obliged to agree to represent workers at disciplinary or grievance hearings. Unions often require a minimum period of membership, or may assess whether or not a grievance is well founded, before agreeing to provide a companion.

If a worker has difficulty in finding a willing companion, the employer may consider postponing the hearing if this is likely to enable the worker to obtain representation, while avoiding undue delay.