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TUC welcomes new rights to representation at work


Everyone at work will be allowed to take a union rep or colleague with them to a disciplinary or grievance hearing from today (Monday). And to help makesure all workers are aware of their new right, the TUC has published a free advice leaflet.

You're not alone! is the latest in the series of advice leaflets available from the TUC's know your rights line 0870 600 4 882.

The new right is part of the Employment Relations Act - which reached the statute book last July - and which has already seen a whole raft of new rights pass into law. Other rights contained within the Act include the right to union recognition where a majority of the workforce wants it, new rights for part-time workers and protection from unfair dismissal for workers who have been employed for one year.

You're not alone! explains that the right to representation for disciplinary and grievance hearings is available to all workers, including casual and agency workers. All companies and organisations regardless of size and whether or not there is a union recognised in the workplace are covered by the new right.

The TUC leaflet says that there is no legal requirement for an employer to have a formal disciplinary procedure, and although larger organisations may have an established procedure, many smaller firms choose not to do so.

But the law says that any meeting with an employer which could result in:

*a formal warning that an employee must improve,
*in some kind of sanction being taken against an employee,
*or the start of a process that may result in an employee losing his/her job,

is defined as a disciplinary hearing and the worker will now be entitled to representation.

From today, employees who bring grievance cases against their employers will also have the right to be accompanied in certain cases. Although the law only allows workers to be accompanied on matters relating to their employment contract, the TUC leaflet points out that this in fact can cover a multitude of issues including discrimination, holidays, working hours and health and safety concerns.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "This is a welcome move for all those people who do not have the benefit of union recognition at work. Unfortunately things do sometimes go wrong at work, and the new right will be comforting news to the many workers employed in non-unionised companies. They can now rest assured that if in the future they hit a problem, they will be able to rely on the support of an union rep or colleague to help see them through."

You're not alone! explains that the law entitles any worker involved in a disciplinary or grievance to be accompanied by one of three different types of representative. This could be a full time trade union official, a trade union rep, probably from the employee's workplace, or a work colleague.


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