During a disciplinary hearing you have the statutory right to be accompanied by a companion. If your chosen companion is not available to attend the hearing at the proposed time, you can suggest another reasonable time which falls within 5 working days of the original date of the hearing. Your employer must then postpone the hearing to the new time. The period of time you suggest must be reasonable, which will depend on the individual facts of your case. In some situations, it may be necessary to postpone a hearing for longer than 5 working days; there was a recent case in which was allowed, however this will not be applicable to all.
If your employer has already rearranged the date of the hearing, and your companion is still not available, they may decide to hold a hearing without you and your companion. Your employer must inform you of their intention to do this, and let you know that the facts of the case will be heard and a decision will be made in your absence. Although this doesn’t breach your right to be accompanied, the Employment Tribunal may take this into account when deciding whether or not your dismissal was fair.
If you have a disability you should be aware of the possibility of discrimination if your employer holds the hearing without you or your companion. It may be that, for example, you have a disability and cannot attend because of reasons related to that disability. Your employer should then postpone the meeting until you are fit to attend the hearing.
You should choose a suitable companion who you believe will have the availability to attend a hearing, in order to avoid a hearing being held in your absence.