Workplace meetings and support persons

Section 387 of the Fair Work Act 2009 provides that in considering whether it is satisfied that a dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable (which is the test for unfair dismissal), one of the factors to be considered by the Commission is “(d) any unreasonable refusal by the employer to allow the person to have a support person present to assist at any discussions relating to dismissal.”
This is one of the statements made in the Commission’s unfair dismissal benchbook about what is meant by that.

“There is no positive obligation on an employer to offer an employee the opportunity to have a support person:
This factor will only be a relevant consideration when an employee asks to have a support person present in a discussion relating to dismissal and the employer unreasonably refuses. It does not impose a positive obligation on employers to offer an employee the opportunity to have a support person present when they are considering dismissing them.370
A support person does not act as an advocate – a support person does not present or defend a case on behalf of the employee.371”