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:
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.