ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Mandy Cann
Mandy Cann Mandy has a long history in government where she spent 15 years in the Brisbane City Council and Qld Urban Utilities. Since leaving the public sector Mandy has been consulting in human resource management and industrial relations to small and medium business for the past 4 years. Working with small to medium clients has broadened Mandy's experience where she now has a good balanced perspective in professional consulting. Mandy holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Masters in Employment Relations both from Griffith University. Mandy has practical working knowledge of the Fair Work Act and State Industrial legislation and can keep businesses compliant with the ever changing workplace laws. Mandy has spoken at industry conferences giving practical advice on effective people management practices in particular effective performance management systems.

Mandy Cann has written 22 article(s) for us.

Visit http://www.cannconsulting.com.au



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When Do I Need to Offer My Employee a Support Person?

October 17, 2012 | Mandy Cann

Find out when you need to offer your employees a support person.
Find out when you need to offer your employees a support person.

A ‘Support Person’ means a person nominated by an employee to support the employee in meetings regarding serious performance and or conduct issues.

A support person could be a friend, a colleague, lawyer, or other nominated person. A support person should not be a fellow employee whose involvement may result in an apparent or possible conflict of interest.

The Fair Work Act 2009, s387(d), considers unreasonable refusal by the employer to allow an employee to have a support person present to assist at any discussions relating to dismissal may constitute unfair dismissal. So it is essential to offer the employee the option of bringing a support person when the matter is a serious performance and or conduct issue that may reasonably lead to dismissal.

Guidelines for a support person in the meeting:

  • A support person is entitled to be present, but is not allowed to be an active voice to say what the problems and issues are, this is for the employee to voice.
  • The support person is not supposed to be an advocate for the employee, they could call a break in the meeting and then suggest to the employee what responses might be given.
  • Although an employee is entitled to select this person, they are not entitled to create unnecessary delays by insisting on someone who will not be available within a reasonable timeframe.

Just remember that procedural fairness, which is concerned with the procedures used by a decision-maker, rather than the actual outcome reached is paramount to defending an unfair dismissal claim and by offering a support person you can demonstrate procedural fairness if you need to defend an unfair dismissal claim.

Have you ever had an employee ask for a support person? How did you handle that? Or perhaps you yourself have used a support person in stressful situations. Share your stories below.