The teacher will be expected to respond directly to the Disciplinary Authority and to answer the allegations.
The teacher may confer with the teaching colleague or representative accompanying him/her and, in exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of management, may be represented by this person.
This means the rep has discussed the case with the member and has their agreement that they can put forward the members’ case. They can respond on the member’s behalf to any view expressed at the meeting but cannot answer questions on the member’s behalf. They can, however, object to inappropriate questions and sum up the case. The rep can also seek an adjournment during the hearing when necessary.
The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Code of Practice defines a disciplinary hearing as one that could result in:
- a formal warning being issued to an employee (i.e., a warning that will be placed on the employee’s record)
- the taking of some other disciplinary action (such as suspension without pay, demotion or dismissal); or
- the confirmation of a warning or some other disciplinary action (such as an appeal hearing).
The companion should be allowed to address the hearing to:
- put the member’s case.
- sum up the member’s case.
- respond on the member’s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing.
- the companion can also seek an adjournment to confer with the teacher during the hearing.
The teacher’s Disciplinary Procedure (TNC 2016-2 Disciplinary Procedure) states that the teacher is entitled to be accompanied (in line with the LRA Code) at all formal stages of the procedure by a teaching colleague or a recognised trade union representative.
NEU have also negotiated an entitlement for teacher members in Northern Ireland to be accompanied in other situations – set out in TNC procedures covering all schools in Northern Ireland.
In a case where a member has been selected for compulsory redundancy, the procedure TNC 2010.1 provides the opportunity to:
(a) make representations (including oral representations) about the proposed redundancy
(b) appeal against the redundancy to an independent appeals panel before the employer issues notice of redundancy
At both these stages the teacher may be represented by the recognised trade union or a teaching colleague
The same redundancy procedure states that consultation must take place throughout the process with the recognised teachers’ unions (which includes NEU).
The statutory right is set out in Article 12 of The Employment Rights Order (NI) 1999.
The right to be accompanied is also set out in the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Code of Practice