Support persons in the fair work system

Support persons are recognized by the Fair Work Act, but there a responsibilities which go with it.

“Support persons have an important and useful role to play when involved in investigatory and disciplinary matters in the workplace. While a support person is not an advocate per se and should not hijack a lawful and reasonable process or answer for an employee, I do not subscribe to the absolute view that they should only be seen and not heard. This is because there may be circumstances in which an employee might be experiencing difficulty in comprehending aspects of the process or an employer might be misconstruing an explanation and the support person present can help improve the quality of the dialogue. Above all, what is required is for all parties to a process and conversation to behave reasonably and respectfully. This means behaving in a civil manner and respecting each other’s rights and obligations. Mr McConnell’s behaviour was the antithesis of that which should be demonstrated by a support person because he set off a chain of events that resulted in the termination of Ms Goss’ employment. However, as much as Mr McConnell’s thuggish behaviour towards Ms Prout was disgraceful, Ms Goss was not dismissed because of it.”

Goss v Health Generation Pty Ltd [2021] FWC 1751 delivered 30 March 2021 per Clancy DP