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I was invited to a meeting with my two line managers via email to discuss the customer service standard within my team. This related to a single incident two weeks ago (I only found out this was the subject at the meeting) the incident I had already addressed with the staff involved at the time. When I arrived a discovered that someone from HR was there to "take notes" I did not know this in advance and felt very uncomfortable as it seemed to formalise the meeting.

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    Pretty simple yes. if you were notified of HR being there would you be allowed to decline? You say that HR being there formalizes the meeting, but why wouldn't a meeting with TWO line managers not imply the same thing? – Shadowzee Feb 13 at 1:29
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    Because both line managers are frequently at meetings (formal and informal) together this is not unusual but hr are not. There was nothing in the invite to indicate this meeting was any different but it played much more like an investigation than a normal meeting – Kate Feb 13 at 1:44
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    Still... HR can monitor a meeting if they wish... They could monitor you if they really wish to. Refusing would be highly suspicious. But if you are worried and are friendly with your managers, you can always discuss it with them to see if they can help shed some light – Shadowzee Feb 13 at 1:56
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    Perhaps HR were looking into one or both of the mangers and how they handled the matter? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Feb 13 at 6:26
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    @MawgsaysreinstateMonica It would be nice, but the scenario reads that the managers themselves invited HR. It's not unheard of, but hard to imagine they would have done so to be watched over themselves. – SemiGeek Feb 13 at 18:21
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Can HR be invited to my meeting with boss without me being told in advance?

Yes. Unless there is some unusual local law stating otherwise, your permission is not required for HR to be present.

But if you are in a union, you should refuse to continue the meeting without your union rep. When in a union, always have a rep present for all "formal" meetings.

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    Can you elaborate on why OP should refuse? – Mars Feb 13 at 1:57
  • Beautiful answer – bharal Feb 13 at 1:57
  • Mars, I don't know why Joe said that but here's a reason. You are invited to a meeting which is 3 against 1. The other side may have a goal and a strategy that you are unaware of. You may rushed or badgered into agreeing to something that is not in your interest and HR is there to record that. Union reps should be trained to resist these tactics and are on your side not the companies... – Eric Nolan Feb 13 at 10:14
  • For instance, a relative worked for a big supermarket chain. Management asked staff to come in and sign new contracts. It was implied that not signing would mean being fired and also that the new contract wouldn't mean any change in working conditions. People who had their union rep present didn't sign because the rep knew employees couldn't be fired for not signing and they pointed out that if there was no change in conditions the new contract was unnecessary. In fact the new contract allowed the company to change working hours at will and promises not to use that ability were wothless – Eric Nolan Feb 13 at 10:19

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