Send in the Clowns
The recent story of an Advertising Executive in Australia who was made redundant and brought a clown into his consultations brings to the foray the need to discuss proper protocol.
The clown during these consultations was doing everything from making upset faces, to letting balloons off in a sighing tone when his employers told the employee that his position was to be made redundant.
So what are an employee’s actual rights to a witness?
In any formal procedure. i.e. a disciplinary hearing, redundancy consultation, capability hearing or termination meeting. an employee is entitled by law to bring a witness in the form of a colleague or trade union representative.
Some clients are happy to allow a family member or friend as a witness if the employee is off sick and attending a capability hearing so you may wish to offer extra support to them. Please note that this is at your discretion and is not a statutory requirement. You are also able to ask all witnesses not to speak on behalf of the employee (although conferring between them is encouraged).
Remember, if you have an informal meeting with an employee i.e. a welfare meeting or a meeting of concern, then you do not need to give an employee notice of this and they are not entitled to a witness in that meeting.
If the clown was indeed a colleague of an employee undergoing a formal process, then technically they would be allowed in the meeting. However, you may wish to discuss the uniform policy with them, unless of course, you’re the CEO of a circus or a party planning business! .