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Employee support person

You can ask an employee support person to accompany you to conduct and performance discussions, and other management enquiries and investigations.

A support person can provide emotional support, take notes and request breaks.

You can ask a work colleague, friend, family member, industrial representative (union officer), or lawyer to be your employee support person.

Make sure your support person does not have a conflict of interest. For example, if a colleague is required as a witness in the investigation, it’s a conflict of interest for them to be your support person. Your supervisor or manager will usually have a conflict of interest between supporting you and their duty to the organisation as a manager.

Your agency may ask you to find a different support person if they think there is a conflict of interest. They must explain why they think this is the case.

Industrial representative

If you’re a member of a union, you can ask a union officer to support you. A union officer will support your interests in line with industrial legislation and their union rules.

They may take a more active role in the meeting. They might ask clarifying questions, prompt you, or give you advice to ensure the process is fair and adheres to industrial legislation.

You should consider asking an employee support person to accompany you to meetings to discuss:

  • poor performance
  • questionable conduct
  • workplace investigations (where you are being interviewed as either a witness or the subject)
  • decisions (e.g. an outcome to a disciplinary process).

Your agency should tell you in advance if they need you to attend one of these meetings. They should suggest you may want to bring a support person and give you enough time to arrange one. They should accommodate changes to the meeting time and date to allow a support person to attend.

You do not need a support person at:

  • workplace operational discussions (e.g. changes to work allocation)
  • general employee meetings and information sessions.

The meeting organiser should clearly outline each attendee’s role in the meeting. This should include what a support person can and cannot do and, if there is a union officer present, what an industrial representative can and cannot do.

A support person can:

  • provide emotional support
  • take notes
  • seek breaks so the employee can regain their composure.

An industrial representative can also ask clarifying questions, prompt you, contribute to a resolution or give you advice to ensure the process is fair and adheres to industrial legislation.

Your representatives cannot speak on your behalf, defend you or directly answer questions for you.

Confidentiality

The meeting organiser should remind everyone in the meeting that they must maintain appropriate confidentiality to protect the integrity of the process and the privacy of the people involved. This includes not discussing the matter with work colleagues or those likely to have information relating to the matter.

An industrial representative may discuss the matter outside the meeting to appropriately represent your interests. For example, they may need to seek further legal advice.

Disruptive behaviour

If anyone becomes difficult or disruptive during a meeting, the meeting organiser should remind them of their role. If it continues, the meeting organiser should suspend the meeting to give the employee time to speak with their representatives.

If the disruptive behaviour continues, the meeting organiser and employee might agree to:

  • continue the meeting without the disruptive person
  • reschedule the meeting with alternative representatives
  • raise and address the questions in writing.