asked to accompany friend to disciplinary hearing while i'm on maternity leave(5 Posts)
I'm due back in work start of September but my friend/ colleague has been accused of gross misconduct and has been asked to go to a disciplinary hearing next week. She's been told that a she has the right for a colleague to attend with her, and she's petrified about this, and has asked me to attend. I have some experience of disciplinary hearings (as presenting officer and also chair) which is why she has asked me, there is no other person in the company who she feels she can ask or who she thinks would be suitable and unfortunately she isn't a member of a trade union. The problem is that i'm still on maternity leave and i'm still exclusively breastfeeding. I'm not planning on introducing soilds until 26 weeeks, 3 weeks away, and even then I would still need to be close to my baby to feed on demand. I am more than happy to accompany here, but I can't see how it would be possible until I return to work (unless they allow the baby in the hearing - is this a possibility).
My question is this: Is it acceptable for my friend to ask that the hearing be postponed until I return to work in September for the reasons i've expressed above? She thinks it would be unfair it I were not able to attend due to my maternity leave and that the company should accommodate he request to postpone this and that it could amount to sex discrimination if they did not postpone - what do the HR bods think about this?
I'm not a HR bod however I believe that there is only a reasonable amount of time that would be allowed to delay and that that Sept would be too far. Truthfully if you were conducting the meeting would you do it?
I'm not sure it is reasonable to expect the company to postpone a hearing for
I do think it is reasonable that you are able to attend with baby. during any hearing requests can be made for breaks at any point so if baby needed feeding a break could be requested.
your friend has to name her support before the meeting therefore she can say that the baby is coming too and wait for HR to respond and then take it from there.
I don't think that it would be contrary to the SDA for them not to refuse to postpone the hearing.
They need to be reasonable, so if someone (a friend) can look after your baby on their premises while you go into the hearing seems reasonable to me.
Btw, although she is not a TU member, if she knows somone who is a TU rep and they are willing to go to the hearing with her she has the right to take them.
I do not think it would be sex discrimination for them to refuse to postpone the hearing, and I honestly think it is completely unrealistic to expect that long a postponement.
The legislation on sex discrimination is designed to prevent the employee from suffering a detriment - for example if YOU couldn't put your case at a hearing because of maternity leave. It doesn't give her complete free reign on who she wants to accompany her. Also, the legislation sets a specific period by which the company must postpone a hearing if a companion is not available. IIRC, it's about five days.
As others have said, to aid the overall fairness of the procedure, the company may consider ways to help you attend - e.g. dialling in or having feeding breaks.
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