Where an employee chooses to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing by a union official, is the official required to be qualified or trained in this role?

Under s.10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, a worker has the statutory right to be accompanied by a trade union official or fellow worker when attending a formal disciplinary or grievance hearing.

For these purposes, a trade union official must either be employed by the trade union or, if not employed by the union, have been certified, in writing, by the union, as having experience of, or as having received training in, acting as a worker's companion at disciplinary or grievance hearings. An official who is not employed by the union and who does not have the appropriate certification cannot, therefore, act as a companion. The legislation assumes that officials employed by the trade union will have the necessary experience or training.

An "official" means an officer of the union, or of a branch or section of the union, or a person elected or appointed in accordance with the rules of the union to be a representative of its members, and includes a person so elected or appointed who is an employee of the same employer as the members that he or she is to represent.