Union representatives

Checklist for companions

A companion is an objective person whose primary task is to support a colleague by accompanying them to meetings with management. The companion is typically present in cases concerning warnings or dismissals. Cases may also concern personal circumstances or illness.

Attending a meeting as a companion involves three steps – before, during and after the meeting.

Before the meeting

Before the meeting, it’s a good idea to:

  • Hold a preliminary meeting and prepare
  • Find out what the agenda is (if there is one)
  • Determine what the member wants
  • Get an understand of all the facts
  • Clarify roles. Remember your role is primarily to listen and ask clarifying questions.
  • Clarify your role with the member!

During the meeting

  • Remember to walk into the meeting together and walk out together, sit on the correct side of the table, etc. – explain undramatically that you are there as a companion for the member
  • The meeting is the member's forum; you are watching from the sideline

Your focus during the meeting:

  • To ensure an impartial/objective basis
  • To ensure that the agenda is followed
  • To ensure that the member's rights are respected (but keep in mind that you are not a defence lawyer!)
  • To safeguard the member's interests
  • Is it time for a break?
  • To stop the meeting if it gets sidetracked
  • Listen and take notes during the meeting, the member may find it difficult to remember everything afterwards
  • If a draft agreement or similar is handed out: take it and listen to what the employer has to say and agree on a date on when you will get back on it
  • If the employer presents new unknown information during the meeting: consider taking a break from the meeting or postponing the item
  • Always acknowledge receipt if the employer so requests
  • Before the meeting ends: make sure there is a common understanding of any conclusions
  • To follow up – when/how?

After the meeting

After the meeting has taken place, it is important to follow up with both the member and the employer:

  • Have a brief conversation with the member – what was said? How did you experience the meeting?
  • Make sure the member is clear about what will happen next
  • Make a realistic assessment of the situation – in the short term and in the long term
  • Refer the member to IDA or contact IDA, if necessary
  • If the employer has taken minutes: do they match your experience? Do you recognise your comments?
  • Assess any agreements, written material and similar – is the member aware of rights and obligations?