Public Sector Employees may be entitled to legal representation at disciplinary proceedings
Disciplinary procedures often prevent employees from having legal representation. The involvement of lawyers may be seen as unhelpful to the resolution of problems within the workplace. ACAS sees legal representation only for exceptional circumstances, for instance if the employee has a particular disability that requires legal representation or if the work environment is a highly specialised or technical one.
A recent decision of the Court of Appeal – Kulkarni v Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – may lead to substantially greater involvement of lawyers in disciplinary proceedings. Public sector employees faced with career-threatening disciplinary charges may be entitled to legal representation, even if the procedure explicitly excludes it. In Kulkarni (a case involving allegations of improper touching of a patient), dismissal would have made Dr Kulkarni unemployable throughout the NHS.
Other parts of the public sector – Education
There are other parts of the public sector where dismissal can result in a lifetime ban on employment. For example, lecturers in further education and teachers dismissed for certain kinds of misbehaviour (such as fraudulent or sexual) can be placed on List 99 – a Government-held register of people barred from working with children.
If you need advice on employment policies, please contact us – we would be pleased to discuss them with you.