Having a witness present at a disciplinary meeting

It is something of an urban myth that an employee who finds himself or herself involved in a disciplinary process is entitled to have an advocate or witness or colleague present. Certainly there is no justification whatsoever for the first. An employer is entitled to meet with an employee without the employee being “represented” by another party in the sense that the representative is able to participate in the meeting.
 
There may be cases where a disciplinary procedure may be prescribed by an enterprise agreement and it may allow an employee to be represented by, say, a union official in this situation.
 
But in the overwhelming number of cases the rights of the employee to have a person accompany them to a disciplinary meeting will be limited to those situations where the employers grants this as a voluntary gesture, or where there is an internal disciplinary procedure which gives the employee that right.
In the absence of a right of this kind being found as an entitlement, the employee concerned has no statutory or common law right to have a representative accompany them to such a meeting. However an employer which rejects an application by an employee to have a passive observer present may contaminate what might otherwise be a perfectly fair process; accordingly an employer is generally wise to grant such a request although employers should only allow positive advocacy by such a person if such a process is laid down by an enterprise agreement or internal policy upon which an employee is entitled to rely as a contractual right.