It has become increasingly noticeable in recent years that the number of disputes over what was said at disciplinary and grievance hearings, and at appeal hearings, is growing.
The main reason for the increasing number of disputes is the fact that very often employees do not take their own notes at these meetings, but instead rely upon their employer to produce accurate and objective minutes of the hearing. However, given that the employer has a vested interest in the outcome of the hearing, occasionally the minutes are not as accurate as they should be. Sometimes, it is the case that the employer presents a slanted and distorted view of what was said, which has been spun to suit the employer.
To prevent this from happening, its is absolutely imperative that employees exercise their right to be accompanied to the meeting by either a union representative or a work colleague. The employee should then arrange for the person accompanying them to write up a separate set of minutes. It is advisable for the employee not to take notes themselves during the meeting, unless they have nobody to accompany them, as it is far better for the employee to focus upon presenting their case at the meeting, without the distraction of having to take notes. Nevertheless, if the employee cannot find anybody to accompany them, then in those circumstances it is advisable for them to take notes personally rather than rely upon the employers minutes.
By ensuring that they have their own minutes from the meeting, not only does the employee not have to rely upon the employers minutes, but the employer is placed upon notice that the employee is compiling their own minutes. This in turn will put the employer under pressure to ensure that their minutes are accurate and objective. This is because the employer knows that if they present a distorted view of what occurred, then the employee can point to what is contained in their own contemporaneous minutes and argue that this calls the employers whole credibility into question.
Employees should remember that if they fail to arrange for their own minutes to be compiled, and a distorted set of employers minutes are the only record of the meeting, then unless the employee can prove that the employers minutes are not accurate, then an Employment Tribunal are likely to treat the employers minutes as an objective account of what happened. That will obviously prejudice the employees case, but ultimately, a Tribunal can only make a determination based upon the evidence presented to them. If there is no evidence to contradict what is contained in the employers minutes, and no evidence to undermine the employers credibility, then the Tribunal will have no option but to accept the minutes as an accurate account.
Should an employee be unable to find a union representative or a work colleague to accompany them, then the employee has the option of requesting that a family member, a friend, or their solicitor accompany them to the meeting instead. Unfortunately, there is no automatic right for them to be accompanied by these alternatives. Instead, the employee must seek permission from their employer to allow them to be accompanied by them
Follow us on twitter by clicking this link to keep up to date with the very latest employment law news