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What is the Role of a Support Person?

A support person is someone who accompanies an employee into a meeting, normally a performance counselling/disciplinary meeting. They are chosen and requested by the employee as the support person.

The manager conducting the meeting, must ensure that the support person is clearly aware that it is a confidential meeting and that it is inappropriate for them to discuss the matters raised with anyone else or reveal the discussion points in any other way.

The role of the support person in the meeting is to support the employee, not to speak on their behalf or to tell the employee what to do. This does not mean that they must not talk at all during the meeting, but they must not advocate for the employee in anyway. The support person is present for the emotional support of the employee, they can act as a witness to the meeting and can take notes for the employee.

The support person may assist the employee to understand what is being said, as emotion may cloud the employee’s perception and cognition of exactly what is being said. In some instances, the support person may need to act as an interpreter for the employee if there is some language difficulty.

The presence of a support person may assist the employee to clearly understand what is happening and be able to better articulate their response. The role of a support person should be viewed in a positive light, allowing the issues to be raised and actions set to improve the employee performance.

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