We use cookies to personalise content, provide social media features, and analyse traffic. Strictly speaking, there is no legal obligation on the employer to allow the doctor to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing by someone who does not meet the statutory definition. A disciplinary meeting is a confronting experience for any employee and the presence of a support person may help the employee feel more relaxed. This means employers should never refuse the presence of a support person, except in rare circumstances where it would be reasonable to do so (for example, if allowing the support person would mean rescheduling at the last minute). Their role is generally to provide emotional support, take notes and clarify questions. Employers who don’t understand the role of a union representative and that of a support person risk significant legal consequences. A meeting scheduled to inform an employee of discipline would not prohibit entitlement to union representation where, during the course of the meeting, the employer advised of its intent to discuss the conduct, thereby suggesting the employee respond, which invoked a reasonable fear that additional discipline might be imposed upon the attempt of the employee to defend his actions. The meeting did not proceed as the employee did not want to attend without the union involved and the employer would not allow it. Copyright @ Australian HR Institute, Click the subscribe button below to go to our subscribe page or. This is best illustrated by the case of Vong v Sika. Role of a Union Representative. Adverse action can include dismissal, discrimination, demotion, suspension, issuing warnings and commencing disciplinary processes. The Union’s representative role With a Union rep present, the employer should still conduct the meeting in the same manner. Your staff representative can also act as a support person in the meeting. In this practical guide, we’ll take a look at the differences between a support person and a union representative, and share tips on complying with your legal obligations. An argument ensued, and the HR manager told the union official to leave the premises and terminated the meeting. Representatives are entitled to raise any concerns with management on behalf of union members. The same thing occurred at the next two meetings. When contemplating disciplinary action, you should begin by determining whether or not the person is a trade union official. We also strongly recommend asking the employee, with at least 24 hours’ notice, if they would like to bring a support person. The union official refused to sign, and stated that he was there to act as Vong’s union representative. 2. The advice I have received in the past both from Fair Work and from 2 different law firms, and the practice followed by the usually very militant unions that I’ve dealt with, was that even as a delegate, their role is still as an observer to ensure fairness and equity of the process, to ensure clarity of the issue and that all parties are clear on the intended outcomes of the meeting and next steps in the process, and to challenge the employer representative only when they believe there is questionable evidence, etc in regards to the issue,… Read more ». At the third meeting, the HR manager left the room and returned with a notice of dismissal. Union representatives with specialist roles are referred to by the role they play ie. To understand more about how we can help, use the contact details below. This is best illustrated by the case of Vong v Sika. 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