Acas has amended its guidance in the Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, by inserting new paragraphs 14 to 16, and identical paragraphs 36 to 38, relating to the right of accompaniment in grievance meetings. The change has been made in light of the EAT decision in Toal v GB Oils, where it was held that a worker had the right to be accompanied in Section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 where a “reasonable request” was made. The new amendments bring clarity to stipulate that “reasonable” applies to the making of the request, as opposed to the worker’s choice of companion.
The updated Code of Practice also states that:
At present, this reformed Code is pending Parliamentary approval.
Sunil Abeyewickreme Says: The case of Toal v GB Oils called into question the Code, which all employers and employees are required to follow. It is extremely rare for a statutory code to be flawed in any respect and considered to not accurately reflect the law, but that was the finding of the Employment Appeal Tribunal. These necessary changes to the Code of Practice are welcomed as the issues in the case have been addressed and it is hoped that the Code will be consistent with the law and remain ‘fit for purpose”. It is clear that employees have an obligation to make their request to be accompanied in a manner that it is ‘clearly understood and provide good time for it to be considered by the employer’ and employers are clearer that they cannot refuse such requests except in very limited circumstances. This is good news for both employers and employees as the Code has become clearer.