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Quick question about union officer being present in a meeting.

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lou5357, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. lou5357

    lou5357 New commenter

    If an employee is invited to one of those "it is informal at this stage'' type of meeting with the Head Teacher, will it automatically become formal if the employee asks for his/her union officer to be present at said meeting?
    Our Head has requested a meeting with a colleague who feels uncomfortable about seeing the Head on a one-to-one.
    Is anyone able to answer this, or do I need to give a little more info'?
  2. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    I'm no expert, but I think you have a right to take a "friend". If that friend should happen to be a union rep...
    Flanks and FrankWolley like this.
  3. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    They could ask to be accompanied by union rep/other person, but the head has the right to say no in an informal meeting.
    I don't believe the employee can insist, and therefore this wouldn't then trigger it being formal. Only the HT side can decide it is formal.
    IMO a head who denied an employee the right to be informally accompanied suggest they have something to hide!
  4. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    Do I have the right to take a colleague or union representative?
    Possibly. Workers have a statutory right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official where they are required or invited by their employer to attend certain disciplinary or grievance hearing

    What if the meeting is neither a disciplinary nor grievance hearing?
    In this instance, you do not have the right to take a colleague or union representative along. Nevertheless, you can certainly ask if you can take a colleague or union rep with you. This will be considered at the employer’s discretion.
    However, if it becomes clear during the meeting that disciplinary action may be called for, then you should ask that the meeting is closed and rearranged to allow you to be accompanied by a colleague or union representative.
  5. Summerhols6

    Summerhols6 Occasional commenter

    No, it is a process. It is designed to look as though the school are 'helping' you when in fact in many cases the 'Informal Stage' is a precursor to 'formal capability', which will stay on your record in you fail it. DO NOT GO INTO ANY MEETING WITHOUT A UNION REP!
    install likes this.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    No, don't give more info. There is a generally correct sort of answer-

    The only way for a meeting to become formal after an informal one is if the resulting action from the informal meeting fails to meet a specific standard, and that includes attendees refusing to attend. It will all be outlined in whatever policy relates to whatever you are asking.
    I cannot think of a situation where bringing representation will default the nature of a meeting to formal, rather, a HT may be disinclined to run the informal meeting with somebody there. Not great practice, but normally up to them. It would therefore be your insistence on formal procedings in order to assert a right to representation which would swing it. A refusal to attend an informal meeting on HT's terms.
    Subtle but important difference. Not a default, but a choice.
    What I don't get here is why this person has not simply checked these facts with the union rep in question-they ought to know and advise far better than anybody here.

    Sounds like another battle brewing :(
    JohnJCazorla and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    The statutory legal right to be accompanied only exists at formal disciplinary and grievance hearings ie a meeting which could result in a sanction such as dismissal or formal warnings. (And possibly also if employee is disabled). This right wouldn't be relevant to the type of informal meeting you describe.

    School's own policies may give a wider right to be accompanied (but can't reduce your statutory rights). If they do the teacher is entitled to be accompanied at any meeting if the school's policies say the teacher can be accompanied.

    If neither of above apply then it would be at the head's discretion whether the teacher could be accompanied. You can ask.
    JohnJCazorla and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  8. lou5357

    lou5357 New commenter

    Many thanks for all the replies; I will pass on your lovely advice to said colleague in the morning.
    Yes, union officer was approached (no union rep' on site). I think the advice to colleague from union was found to be confusing so colleague asked me.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  9. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Advice from the Union officer was confusing? In that case, its worrying. What part of "I've got a meeting to discuss an informal stage, can you come with me" does the Union Officer not understand?

    Your friend pays subs - therefore she has a right to representation.
    Stormy861, Sanz1981 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  10. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    No they don't.

    If the school permits OP's friend to be accompanied then the friend is entitled to expect the union to provide someone to accompany her/him.

    But paying union subs doesn't mean school must allow OP's friend to be accompanied.
    JohnJCazorla and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  11. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    That's interesting - thank you for clarifying.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  12. Sanz1981

    Sanz1981 Occasional commenter

    It could be construed as such.

    Isn’t there anyone willing from school to go? I’ve found a lot of staff give big talk re school / management but when time comes they’re cower away and leave the person with the problem to face it themselves
  13. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    Good post.

    I will also add that;

    Take a note pad and paper. Write your own minutes. Send to the union.

    If the head has brought someone else in to take minutes - then DO NOT COMPLETE THE MEETING. This is generally the first sign that the meeting is far from informal, and whatever is being said at this meeting could be used later. I have seen this before, many times.
  14. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    I would argue that if the person suffers from anxiety or depression then it would be a reasonable adjustment to be allowed to have a friend or union rep present.

    Of course this may not apply.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    And only if the anxiety/depression was long term (12 months+)

    And only if it met the rest of Equality Act definition

    And only if the employer had known of the disability prior to the meeting

    And .... and....
  16. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    It would be a poor employer who disregarded these adjustments just because they may not, yet, meet the definition in law.

    Oh hang on, I see what you mean.
  17. runawayjackson

    runawayjackson New commenter

    It is almost certainly a trap. At the very least insist on a friend. But dig heels in and say union
  18. hs9981

    hs9981 Lead commenter

    Just take your phone into the meeting and record everything. If the head has any staff with them, halfway through, make an excuse, pop to the toilet and leave your phone on record.....

    Then listen to what was said later.

    You could even play them off against each other later, telling one the other said xxxxx whilst you were away, in the toilet.....:cool:
  19. install

    install Star commenter

    Do not be fooled by the word 'informal'. All it takes is for the head to write a dodgy summary of the so called 'informal' meeting and to send it, saying their take on the matter.

    Take a Union rep or trusted witness. Do not be trapped. Some heads act very differently when it's just you on your own. That is how some of them got to be head in the first place....some do dodgy deals. And some don't want a can of worms opened up.
  20. shevington

    shevington Occasional commenter

    Body camera that should stop all problems.
    Catgirl1964 likes this.

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