Does a worker under 18 years of age have the right to be accompanied by a parent/guardian at a grievance or disciplinary hearing?

Many people believe that there is such a right. However, the right to be accompanied at such meetings is basically confined to:

  • A trade union official; or
  • Another of the employer's workers.

Unless a parent or a guardian happens to also be a trade union official or another of the employer’s workers then there is no right allowing them to accompany the worker. Acas guidance on the right to be accompanied can be found here.

An exception to the right can, however, arise from the overarching effect of the disability laws which require reasonable adjustments to be made for disabled employees who are placed at a disadvantage by their disability. Arguably, this might mean that a worker who is under 18 and who is also disabled may have the right to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. However they would have to show that they require the attendance of their parent or guardian (as opposed to anyone else) to overcome their particular disadvantage. This rarely arises in practice.

That is not to say that an employer should simply refuse all such requests. An employer should consider requests on a case by case basis and act reasonably so as not to undermine the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee.

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