An Unusual Choice of Companion

A recent article in the news which related to an employment issue in New Zealand: ‘Man brings clown to redundancy meeting’ – led me to contemplate the practical impacts of allowing employees to bring a companion of their choosing to disciplinary, grievance, or other similar meetings.

Picture this:  You are anxiously waiting in a meeting room with your HR officer, for one of your employees to arrive for a disciplinary meeting.

There is a confident rap on the door and in walks the employee, followed by a clown…

Having allowed the employee to bring a companion, in accordance with your vaguely drafted disciplinary policy, you wonder how you are going to handle this?  You consider three options:

  1. Ask the clown to leave.
  2. Reschedule the appointment.
  3. Proceed.

So, you decide to proceed and during the meeting, the clown starts blowing up balloon animals and making honking noises.

You actually have no right to ask the clown to leave just because of his/her choice of clothing.

You can tackle the disruptive behaviour and suggest that it is not appropriate for the type of meeting.  Perhaps give the employee some options, including:

  1. Breaking the meeting and speak to the clown requesting that he/she stops the behaviour.
  2. Postponing the meeting and insisting on a different companion.

You can avoid this situation by:

  1. Ensuring that your policies and procedures are drafted appropriately and specify the scope of the employee’s choice of companion;
  2. Adhering to your policies and procedures;
  3. Asking employees to tell you who their companion will be in advance of the meeting.
  4. Setting out expectations of how the companion should behave in such meetings.
  5. Reminding everyone at the beginning of the meeting what is expected of them.

If you have been in a similar situation we would love to hear from you with your thoughts.

If you would like assistance or advice for any employment issues please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Kitsons Solicitors - Rosie Evans

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    Kitsons Solicitors - Rosie Evans

    Rosie EvansAssociate

    Rosie is an Associate in our Employment team

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