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You’ve been called into a meeting with the boss – what a union support person can assist with

March 27, 2024

What is a support person?

A Support Person a person who can assist members regarding workplace matters. This can be a representative of the Union. A Support Person is often called on when a member is asked to meet with the company.

How can a support person assist during a meeting with the company?

The role of a Support Person can vary, depending on the individual. Some of the ways a Support Person can support members include attending the meeting, providing advice on what to expect, acting as a witness, taking notes, asking clarifying questions, or requesting a short break. Essentially, a Support Person supports your interests.

Am I entitled to a support person?

As an employee, you can have a Support Person or a representative at a meeting with you.

In discussions relating to dismissal, your employer is not obliged to offer you a Support Person but they also must not unreasonably refuse the right for you to have a Support Person present.

The company may claim that you don’t need a Support Person for a meeting, dismissing it as a casual chat or asserting that you’re not entitled to bring one. Do not be misled. If faced with such objections, you are allowed to challenge that assertion.

Things to keep in mind if you are required to attend a meeting with the company:

  • Always contact your Delegate as soon as you are informed that you need to attend a meeting
  • Always arrange to take a support person with you to the meeting
  • If the proposed timing isn’t suitable, you are allowed to suggest an alternative
  • Never assume the meeting’s outcome or underestimate the need for a Support Person
  • Never wait until you get the Show Cause stage of the process before contacting your Support Person or the Union
  • Always tell the truth and only provide answers to questions asked
  • Recognise that many members tend to offer more information than necessary
  • Know that your SP is able to ask questions to clarify information for you
  • Don’t believe the spiel that is provided at the start of the meeting that you cannot talk. You can’t answer questions on behalf of the person being interviewed but you can seek clarification.

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