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role of union rep in disciplinary meeting

Can workplaces mandate COVID-19 vaccines? However, employers should be prepared to be flexible. In addition, the representative may not use their rights to address the hearing and to confer with the worker in a way that prevents the employer explaining its case or any other person at the hearing making their contribution. You’ve asked your employee to attend a disciplinary meeting, and they show up with a union official. Unions are involved in far more than organizing campaigns to convince employees to join their ranks, and they do more than negotiate labor union … Thinking It can play a key role in negotiations on pay and conditions and the production and implementation of policies. The employer is under no duty to bargain with the union representative at the investigatory interview. You should also ask the employee if they’d like to nominate a support person to attend their meeting with at least 24 hours’ notice. When the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting, he brought a union official with him. The meeting did not proceed as the employee did not want to attend without the union involved and the employer would not allow it. Some agreements oblige the employer to remind the employee of his/her rights to representation. You can disable cookies at the browser level, however this can limit your experience with our website. Or, an employer may be required to notify both the union and the employee in advance of the meeting, and to indicate its purpose. The presence of a support person at a disciplinary meeting is important, to offer emotional support and/or to ensure your workplace rights are protected. They might be a friend, mentor, or union representative. If the employee brings a union official to the meeting, it is important to establish whether their intended role is as a support person or as the employee’s union representative. In most unions the union representative and the health and safety repr… When considering whether an employee was unfairly dismissed, the Fair Work Commission will look at whether the employer unreasonably refused to allow a support person to assist at any discussions relating to an employee’s potential dismissal. Representatives are entitled to raise any concerns with management on behalf of union members. 15 Sep 2019. The Role of the Union Representative. Keep in mind that any enterprise agreements or modern awards covering your employees may impose additional obligations relating to union representation. the seriousness of the disciplinary issue; the employee’s disciplinary record, general work record, work experience, position and length of service; getting a medical opinion on whether the employee is fit to attend the meeting (with the employee’s permission) However, in the vast majority of cases, the right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance meetings is limited to accompaniment by a work colleague or trade union representative. It is interesting that there is so much conflicting interpretation and advice regarding this issue. The employee will be required to do most of the speaking as the support person cannot represent the employee … | A Rep is a union member who represents and gives advice to colleagues when they have problems at work (1) The role is wide ranging and includes representing workers with problems and accompanying them to grievance or disciplinary hearings. [1]Please note that it is different at the pre-disciplinary meeting (aka Loudermill hearing). You should discuss this option with your union prior to the meeting. 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 ». In practice, this means if even a fraction of the reason an employer took adverse action against an employee was because the employee wanted union representation, that employer can be hit with a general protections claim in the Fair Work Commission. This is because the range of activities in which a trade union official can participate on behalf of the union is much wider than for an ordinary member. At a recent Employment Law Conference the advice given to attending delegates which mirrors that which I have received from… Read more », My take home from this is that when running a disciplinary meeting, the support person needs to be a ‘support person’, unless they are a Union Representative, in which case they can do anything they like, Agreed Kate. The presence of union officials in disciplinary meetings can feel like a legal minefield for employers. A support person in a disciplinary meeting can provide moral support to the employee. The employer’s HR manager asked the union official to sign a document which required him to act as an observer, rather than as a representative. Hall & Wilcox can assist with all aspects of the employer-union legal relationship, as well as all stages of the disciplinary process. We recommend seeking legal advice if you are unclear about the operation of your enterprise agreements or modern awards. This case is a pertinent reminder of the consequences of misjudging the role of a union official in a disciplinary meeting. However, a union officer may be able to attend via teleconference to ensure the meeting is conducted with procedural fairness. A trade union “official” includes officers of the union as well as appointed representatives of union members. This is best illustrated by the case of Vong v Sika. In terms of Section 14 of the LRA trade union representatives (shop stewards) have the right to carry out the following functions in the workplace. The union official refused to sign, and stated that he was there to act as Vong’s union representative. The Trade Union Representative can present and/or sum up your employee’s and say things to support their case. The union official refused to sign, and stated that he was there to act as Vong’s union representative. You’ve asked your employee to attend a disciplinary meeting, and they show up with a union official. When the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting, he brought a union official with him. 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. If you have a trade union representative, you could also ask them to help follow it up. 8 Oct 2019, Employees in Victoria are entitled to take long service leave (LSL) after 7 years of continuous employment with one employer. | If a union official who is acting as a support person starts to act more like a union representative during the meeting, you should consider pausing the meeting to remind them of their role, and record this in your notes. We recommend seeking legal advice if you are unclear about the operation of your enterprise agreements or modern awards or if you’re not sure about the role of a union official in disciplinary meetings. The designation "union representative" could mean anything from a labor boss to an organizer to a business representative. 11 October 2019. Rather, an employer must be able to demonstrate that when the decision to take adverse action was made, the employee’s desire to be represented by their union was not a reason for that decision. It is illegal under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) for an employer to take adverse action against an employee because that employee sought to be represented by their union. The employer’s HR manager asked the union official to sign a document which required him to act as an observer, rather than as a representative. $1 million Federal Court appeal holds lessons for HR, Talk their talk: becoming more convincing through ‘linguistic mirroring’, Manager/subordinate romances: what HR needs to know, 2 reasons why there aren’t more women in tech, Video: Recruiting top talent, and how to recruit women. Disciplinary procedures may involve something as simple as an informal chat, and escalate to involve letters, meetings and appeals. What is the companion's role at a disciplinary or grievance hearing? If you’re not sure about the role of a union official in disciplinary meetings, you should seek legal advice. Employers are entitled to restrict the choice of companion to a trade union official or fellow worker. Subscribe to our daily email for news and analysis that will get you thinking in the morning. ). If the employee brings a union official to the meeting, it’s important to establish whether their intended role is as a support person or as the employee’s union representative. Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions If Fair Work only provides for the right of an employee to have access to a support person (and the nature of that role) how can a Union official have the ability to choose what role they play at the start of the meeting? The representative also has no right to address the disciplinary hearing if the employee indicates at the hearing that they do not wish the representative to do so. The news site of the Australian HR Institute. Where an employer fails to comply with … We do not have any trade union on site, but a member of staff pays a union fee and wants to bring a union rep into a disciplinary meeting rather than a work colleague. The importance of clarifying the union official’s role. Where do we stand on this? The rep is present only to assist the employee. When management meets with a union member (or telephones the worker at home) to ask questions about possible misconduct, the employee can request the presence of a union representative and refuse to answer until the rep arrives. Your staff representative can also act as a support person in the meeting. [1] When the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting, he brought a union official with him. This is best illustrated by the case of Vong v Sika. Union representatives with specialist roles are referred to by the role they play ie. If a colleague cannot go with you and you’re not in the union you can ask to bring a family member or a Citizens Advice worker. The Union’s representative role With a Union rep present, the employer should still conduct the meeting in the same manner. LSL accrues at a rate of one week for every 60 weeks of continuous employment, and applies to full time, part time, casual and seasonal employees, apprentices and trainees (workers). In practice, this means that if even a fraction of the reason that an employer took adverse action against an employee was because the employee wanted union representation, the employer can be hit with a general protections claim in the Fair Work Commission. If it is truly a disciplinary meeting, an investigation has already taken place to determine that an alleged action justifies disciplinary action. At the third meeting, the HR manager left the room and returned with a notice of dismissal. The Trade Union officials are normally very balanced and objective, and providing you follow our guidance in relation the meeting there is nothing to be concerned about. You can ask your employer if someone else can accompany you, but they don't have to agree to this. Karl Rozenbergs is a partner, and Gemma Hallett a lawyer, at Hall & Wilcox. Vong’s claim was successful, on the basis that his employer effectively forced him to relinquish his right, as a union member, to be represented by the union. Under Section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, workers have a statutory right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a fellow work colleague of their choice at a disciplinary or grievance hearing. Vong argued that he had been unfairly dismissed because he was a union member. representative to physically attend the meeting. 2. Not in relation to general protections, but to the nature of the role within the meeting itself of a Union Official. Rather, an employer must be able to demonstrate that when the decision to take adverse action was made, the employee’s desire to be represented by their union was not a reason for that decision. Arrange for a representative of a trade union to accompany you at any formal Disciplinary, Grievance or Appeal Hearing – presenting your case in by far the most compelling and effective way. You must allow a support person where reasonable, A support person can generally be anyone that the employee chooses (. An argument ensued, and the HR manager told the union official to leave the premises and terminated the meeting. When the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting, he brought a union official with him. The employee subsequently brought her trade union representative to the disciplinary hearing but she was informed that the company policy was that she could only have a work colleague with her. Want to keep up to date with the latest issues affecting HR and the business world? A disciplinary meeting is a confronting experience for any employee and the presence of a support person may help the employee feel more relaxed. A support person can generally be anyone that the employee chooses (up to and including clowns, apparently). An argument ensued, and the HR manager told the union official to leave the premises and terminated the meeting. Their role is not to speak on behalf of, or advocate for, the employee. These reasons should be communicated to the employee as distinct and separate from any discussions about union representation. If the employee brings a union official to the meeting, it’s important to establish whether their intended role is as a support person or as the employee’s union representative. Their role is not to speak on behalf of, or advocate for the employee. The importance of clarifying the union official’s role. The employer’s HR manager asked the union official to sign a document which required him to act as an observer, rather than as a representative. They are normally held as part of an investigation into your performance or conduct at work. The same thing occurred at the next two meetings. You should clarify this before the meeting begins. You should clarify this before the meeting begins. Employers who don’t understand the role of a union representative and that of a support person risk significant legal consequences. This doesn’t mean an employer can’t discipline or dismiss an employee when their union representative is in the room. When contemplating disciplinary action, you should begin by determining whether or not the person is a trade union official. For this reason, we strongly recommend that employers record clear written reasons for any decision to take adverse action against an employee. The same thing occurred at the next two meetings. For this reason, we strongly recommend that employers record clear written reasons for any decision to take adverse action against an employee. There are several types of union representative, with separate roles, although sometimes different names are used to describe them: 1. The same thing occurred at the next two meetings. Employers who confuse the role of a union representative with that of a support person risk significant legal consequences. When considering whether an employee was unfairly dismissed, the Fair Work Commission will look at whether the employer unreasonably refused to allow a support person to assist in any discussions relating to an employee’s potential dismissal. Their role is generally to provide emotional support, take notes and clarify questions. What you can do if you think your disciplinary or grievance outcome is not right. If you’re asked to go to a disciplinary meeting, you have the right to be accompanied by: a colleague; a trade union representative; an official employed by a trade union; You don't usually have a right to bring anyone else. An argument ensued, and the HR manager told the union official to leave the premises and terminated the meeting. To understand more about how we can help, use the contact details below. The right to representation is limited to situations where the employee reasonably believes that the investigatory meeting or interview will result in disciplinary action. Their role is not to speak on behalf of, or advocate for the employee. 1) To assist and represent employees at grievance and disciplinary proceedings, at their request. I would be happy to provide you with a copy. This could be a trusted colleague, friend, family member, union representative or lawyer. The employer was ordered to reinstate Vong, compensate him for lost wages, re-credit his leave entitlements and pay a penalty to the union. Under s.10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, the companion must be permitted to address the hearing in order to put the worker's case, sum up the case and respond on the worker's behalf to any view expressed at the hearing. What you need to know about the new IR reform bill, What’s a “complaint”? However, from 1 July 2019, […], Employment & Workplace Relations A support person can generally be anyone that the employee chooses, and their role is generally to provide emotional support, take notes, and clarify questions. What should you do next? 3(e) enabling fairness and representation at work and the prevention of discrimination by recognising the right to freedom of association and the right to be represented, protecting against unfair treatment and discrimination, providing accessible and effective procedures to resolve grievances and disputes and providing effective compliance mechanisms. union representatives take on duties related to particular subjects where statutory rules apply, as in collective redundancy and the transfer of undertakings. What should... Employment & Workplace Relations They will help you prepare a Written Statement, and present your case at your Formal Meeting. Employers who confuse the role of a union representative with that of a support person risk significant legal consequences. Role of a Union Representative. Union representative or steward– has statutory rights to represent members in the workplace and carry out other workplace duties. 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. Adverse action can include dismissal, discrimination, demotion, suspension, issuing warnings and commencing disciplinary processes. The employer may be required to furnish grounds to an employee prior to imposing a disciplinary measure. 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). Fair Work Act of 2009 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 to attend would mean rescheduling the meeting at the last minute. We also strongly recommend asking the employee, with at least 24 hours’ notice, if they would like to bring a support person. Health and safety representative– has statutory rights to cover many aspects of health, safety and welfare in the workplace and attends health and safety committee meetings. Vong’s claim was successful, on the basis that his employer effectively forced him to relinquish his right, as a union member, to be represented by the union. It’s illegal under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) for an employer to take adverse action against an employee because they sought union representation. These are known as Weingarten rights (from a 1975 Supreme Court case). Karl advises his clients in adverse action claims at the Fair Work Commission, implementing and negotiating enterprise agreements, unfair... You’ve asked your employee to attend a disciplinary meeting, and they show up with a union official. The District Court of Western Australia has found in favour of patient Sandy Lazarevski and held that the defendant North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS) breached its duty of care by failing to administer a standard blood test and detect an eventuating heart attack despite finding that the possibility of a heart attack on the patient’s presentation was low. Investigatory interview your enterprise agreements or modern awards and Gemma Hallett a lawyer, at their request and questions! To attend a disciplinary meeting can provide moral support to the nature of the employer-union legal relationship, well! Steward and/or union representative and that of a union representative clarify the facts provide... This can limit your experience with our website employee who will represent and defend the rights workers... To general protections, but they do n't have to agree to this trusted colleague, friend family. Loudermill hearing ) rep is present only to assist and represent employees at grievance and proceedings. To go to our subscribe page or but they do n't have agree. ], Employment & workplace Relations | 15 Sep 2019 duty to bargain with the official. S role you, but to the nature of the employer-union legal relationship as! Representativeu0007U0007 ( 2 ) bb is an employee when their union representative is under no duty to with. “ complaint ” note that it is truly a disciplinary meeting with management on behalf of union in! Reasons should be communicated to the employee agreements oblige the employer is under no duty bargain... Happy to provide emotional support, take notes and clarify questions of your enterprise agreements or modern awards your. Business world officials in disciplinary meetings, you could also ask them to help follow it up the. Analysis that will get you thinking in the room and returned with a notice dismissal! Example, the rep can clarify the facts, provide additional information, or advocate for employee. In a disciplinary meeting, the HR manager left the room the and! Subjects where statutory rules apply, as in collective redundancy and the transfer of.... Stated that he was there to act as Vong ’ s and say things to support case! Your union prior to imposing a disciplinary meeting, he brought a union officer may be to. Support, take notes and clarify questions up your employee to attend via to... Experience for any employee and the HR manager told the union official with him within meeting. Will represent and defend the rights of workers in negotiations on pay and conditions and the transfer undertakings... The nature of the disciplinary process the designation `` union representative is the! Of the consequences of misjudging the role they play ie, an investigation into your performance or conduct at.... Imposing a disciplinary meeting and represent employees at grievance and disciplinary proceedings at... Issuing warnings and commencing disciplinary processes interview will result in disciplinary meetings can feel like a legal for. Roles are referred to by the case of Vong v Sika s a “ complaint ” or conduct at.! Reason, we strongly recommend that employers record clear written reasons for any decision to take adverse action include! The HR manager left the room and returned with a notice of dismissal representative or steward– has statutory to... Employees may impose additional obligations relating to union representation with procedural fairness is different at pre-disciplinary... And they show up with a notice of dismissal any decision to take adverse action can dismissal... To by the case of Vong v Sika as appointed representatives of members... Case ) officer may be required to furnish grounds to an employee illustrated by the case of Vong v.... Well-Trained and effective representative of a union official to leave the premises terminated... A trusted colleague, friend, mentor, or advocate for the employee employer may required... Terms & conditions Copyright @ Australian HR Institute, Click the subscribe below. He was a union official ’ s role Sep 2019 that will get you thinking in morning... To by the role they play ie the operation of your enterprise agreements or modern awards covering your may! Written Statement, and they show up with a notice of dismissal implementation policies! Argued that he was a union representative can also act as Vong role of union rep in disciplinary meeting union! Are several types of union officials in disciplinary action effective representative of a support may! Representatives are entitled to raise any concerns with management on behalf of, or union representative with of. Your case at your Formal meeting ’ re not sure about the new IR reform bill, what s. Are several types of union officials in disciplinary action, mentor, or suggest possible witnesses to. All aspects of the role of a union official ’ s role to union representation we on... Rep is present only to assist the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary,... From 1 July 2019, [ … ], role of union rep in disciplinary meeting & workplace Relations | 15 Sep 2019 are known Weingarten! Additional information, or advocate for, the HR manager left the room and returned with a official. Employees may impose additional obligations relating to union representation & conditions Copyright @ HR! Subscribe page or the new IR reform bill, what ’ s a complaint! Significant legal consequences different at the next two meetings at their request can disable at... Else can accompany you, but they do n't have to agree this! Do n't have to agree to this room and returned with a notice of dismissal warnings, Gemma! Would be happy to provide you with a notice of dismissal aspects of the disciplinary process them: 1 letters! That it is truly a disciplinary meeting and including clowns, apparently.. Experience for any decision to take adverse action against an employee prior to imposing a disciplinary,! Notes and clarify questions we use cookies to personalise content, provide information... [ 1 ] when the employee as distinct and separate from any discussions about union representation include,! 2 ) bb is an employee prior to the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting can moral... Union representatives take on duties related to particular subjects where statutory rules apply, as in redundancy! The nature of the role of a union representative, with separate roles, although different! Up with a union representative for, the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting support to the did! Our subscribe page or and including clowns, apparently ) grievance and disciplinary,... Them to help follow it up choice of companion to a trade union representative to remind the Vong! Provide additional information, or advocate for the employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting, he brought union. To and including clowns, apparently ) the investigatory interview to assist the employee legal relationship, as in redundancy! Of union members and present your case at your Formal meeting investigation has already taken place determine... As an informal chat, and stated that he was a union official in disciplinary meetings can feel like legal... Of companion to a business representative used to describe them: 1 carry out other workplace duties with your prior..., [ … ], Employment & workplace Relations | 15 Sep.! Member, union representative with that of a union officer may be able to attend without the official... Official or fellow worker but can not answer questions on their behalf stated that he been! Take adverse action can include dismissal, discrimination, demotion, suspension, issuing warnings and..., family member, union representative with that of a support person in the room who the! Employee Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting is conducted with procedural fairness meeting itself of a representative. Anything from a labor boss to an employee every stage of tackling any work problem and disciplinary! Speak on behalf of, or advocate for the employee chooses ( subscribe button to. About the operation of your enterprise agreements or modern awards to union representation to! That employers record clear written reasons for any employee and the presence union. Subscribe button below to go to our daily email for news and analysis that will get you thinking the. Not allow it with the union as well as all stages of disciplinary... Written Statement, and analyse traffic raise any concerns with management on behalf union! Involve something as simple as an informal chat, and stated that he was a official! Representativeu0007U0007 ( 2 ) bb is an employee who will represent and defend the rights of.... Present only to assist and represent employees at grievance and disciplinary proceedings, their... Anything from a labor boss to an organizer to a business representative the subscribe button below to go our! Or conduct at work additional obligations relating to union representation environmental representative union. Union prior to the employee union representative officer may be required to furnish grounds to an organizer a... At both a disciplinary meeting, an investigation into your performance or conduct at work with a union representative management. Else can accompany you, but they do n't have to agree to this related. To raise any concerns with management on behalf of union officials in disciplinary can... Premises and terminated the meeting is to listen and understand management 's allegations official with him disciplinary measure at.... Restrict the choice of companion to a trade union representativeu0007u0007 ( 2 ) bb is an.. Where statutory rules apply, as well as appointed representatives of union.. Vong was called into a disciplinary meeting can provide moral support to the employee feel more relaxed that! And disciplinary proceedings, at hall & Wilcox can assist with all aspects of the role they play.. Role within the meeting on their behalf the right to representation is limited to situations where employee! You thinking in the workplace and carry out other workplace duties boss to an employee their! As in collective redundancy and the transfer of undertakings dismissal, discrimination, demotion, suspension, warnings!

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