Kate Brooks

Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services

DATE PUBLISHED: 10 Mar 2016 LAST UPDATED: 09 Feb 2024

Minor Changes to the Acas Code of Practice – the employer’s rule book

All employers should have a copy of the Acas code handy when it comes to disciplining employees or dealing with employee concerns (grievances).

Following a judgment by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (Toal & Anor v GB Oils) the Acas Code has been slightly updated. In summary the rules on employees making requests to be accompanied have been clarified. You can view the updated Code here.

The changes are as follows:

  1. Companion is now defined in three categories:-
    1. Fellow worker;
    2. Trade union representative;
    3. Official employed by a trade union.
  2. Employer must agree to a request for an employee to be accompanied by a member of any of the above categories.
  3. A request does not have to be in writing or in a certain timeframe – only enough time for employer to deal with the person attending; make sure any request is clearly understood.
  4. Employee can request to change the companion.
  5. Employees to consider how practical their request is i.e. geographical location and availability to attend.
  6. If the employee’s companion is unavailable – employer must postpone hearing and agree to time proposed by the employee if it is reasonable and within 5 working days of original hearing date.

The changes relate to paragraphs 14-16 (disciplinary) and 36-38 (grievance) of the Acas Code.

A common question is whether an employee is entitled to bring a friend relative or legal advisor to a disciplinary or grievance meeting – the answer is there is no legal right to do so. The employee is only allowed a trade union representative/official or a companion.

If you have any queries in relation to the updated Acas Code, please contact me at kate.brooks@ellisjones.co.uk.

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