Competent support saves jobs. Do not underestimate the support person Being unsupported is unprotected
You need a support person, here are the reasons why
Employers usually dismiss you with a ‘valid reason’ and they must notify the employee of these reasons. That is why they use disciplinary meetings and investigations to justify their reasons and demonstrate a “fair and just” process.
Many organizations will have a designated employment law expert either an inhouse solicitor or HR representatives masquerading under the disguise of “people and culture” or are a member of a industry association.
These employees / representatives are highly trained, specialized and have the backing of the company’s virtually limitless resources to terminate your employment with prejudice. Many Employers give minimal notice to the employees often via email regarding workplace meetings whether that be for workplace conflict, mediations, or investigations. Letters may be vague and may not contain the exact allegations but quite often will contain the words “you may bring a support person”.
These crucial words may be the difference between an unsalvageable end to a career or you leaving with your reputation and income intact.
Many employees find it an unnecessary cost to spend monies on an industry expert to attend the workplace meetings due to the perception that there is no need to pay someone to hold their hand. Regardless of workplace investigation or workplace mediations. Often misleading to the untrained eye, the average person thinks “support person” is an open invitation to bring a friend or relative. But instead this is a critical opportunity and should not be underestimated.
As per s387(d) of the Fair Work Act, there is no positive obligation for an employer to offer a support person to the employee.
However, employers cannot refuse the employee the opportunity to have a support person in attendance. Employers cannot decide who can or cannot be a support person and furthermore they cannot refuse the adjournment of a workplace meeting by an employee who needs more time to seek a competent support person.
Support persons cannot advocate nor represent an employee in these workplace meetings and are usually there in an observational capacity. This does not prohibit consultation in private or in the various time outs requested by the employee. It also evens the odds, when usually in these meetings there are more than one employer representative
It is within the rights of the employee to interject any cross- examination of the employee, bullying and intimidation as well as providing essential witness testimony if the matter proceeds further. Having an industry expert as a workplace support person will likely result in a far more favorable outcome than one you can negotiate yourself. Unions and lawyers often attend these meetings strictly for the purpose of making sure the employee does not get taken advantage of as there are many complex parts to this negotiation, both parties need to look after their interests.
Employers often try and forced you to resign, so they avoid the unfair dismissal or general protections claim. Employees are often presented with lowball offers of money often accompanied by the forfeit of their workplace rights. Usually there is no obligation for employees to sign any agreement with the employee as some monies such as entitlements should not carry such caveats.
Without a competent support person to consult, too many sign their rights away with a ‘one-way deed of release’ ultimately extinguishing their chance of seeking proper justice. Workplace investigations can often involve the employer questioning often quite aggressively the employee and pushing beyond the lines of what would be deemed as excessive. This is how many employers handle workplace conflict.
Employers will often mis quote and paraphrase the employee to suit their own purpose, this is often the case with un-supported employees who walk blindly into workplace investigation meetings and are ambushed in a room full of trained interrogators. Usually once Employers get you in their sights your in strife, you need to fight for your job
As a result, employees will often make concessions and admissions to the employer resulting in the demise of their career. An example of this employees just apologize even if they have done nothing wrong, hoping by doing this they will keep their job. Employers then say, now you’ve admitted you’ve the wrong thing or no doing your job properly your dismissed. Employees un-supported are likely to jeopardize their employment due to their lack of experience in dealing with complex and treacherous questions
Thus, you should always engage the services of a competent support person who can properly advise you of your workplace rights and prevent the employer from taking advantage of you. Industry experts will always deliver you a far better outcome than you can possibly negotiate.
Not only do you retain the services of the expert, you also have access to their experience and reputation often being enough to have the employer treat you with the proper respect you deserve. Your welcome to get free advice from us, or we can represent you, remember never resign and there a strict 21 days to lodge a unfair dismissal or general protections claim