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Companions for meetings – but no clowns

We deal with all sorts of quirky goings on in the wonderful world of work and HR – but bringing a clown to a formal meeting is a new one on us!

You may have read that a man in New Zealand chose to bring an “emotional support” clown with him to a meeting with HR to discuss redundancy. The full article is here.

The best bit is: “Joe accompanied Josh for the redundancy meeting, where the clown made balloon animals, although he had to be told to stop a few times as it was difficult to hear above the screeching of plastic.”

It’s amusing and it got us thinking:

Employees – are you aware of your rights to be accompanied to meetings here in the UK?

Employers – it’s a legal requirement for some meetings, but do you know which ones? You could be fined if you don’t offer it.

Why bring a companion?

No clowns, thanks

  • It adds credibility to the process.
  • Gives staff confidence that issues are being handled fairly or taken seriously.
  • Provides moral support.
  • Can help manage the process more effectively – for explain to explain what’s happening if English isn’t the employee’s first language.

What does the companion do?

  • Helps the individual understand the process and what’s happening.
  • Can address the meeting.
  • Confers with the employee during the meeting.
  • BUT she or he is not allowed to answer on the employee’s behalf.
  • No making balloon animals either – way to screechy and distracting.

Who can I bring?

  • You are entitled to bring a work colleague or trade union representative.
  • Employers can consider allowing a friend or relative if it’s reasonable or helpful in the circumstances, but the decision is down to the employer.
  • Not a clown. No clowns allowed, sorry (not sorry).


What sort of meetings?

  • The statutory right (the legal minimum) to be accompanied applies to disciplinary and grievance meetings only.
  • Employers must include the right to be accompanied in your invite to the meetings.
  • That’s the meetings themselves, including appeals not the investigations.
  • There are other circumstances where it’s useful but not a statutory requirement to have a companion, particularly when discussing issues of a sensitive nature.
  • These could be redundancy consultations, flexible working requests, performance reviews or sickness related meetings.



By Melissa

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