MEDIATION OF EMPLOYMENT DISPUTES
Claims for unfair dismissal, redundancy and other employment disputes are traditionally brought before an industrial tribunal. This can be a stressful, lengthy and costly process for both employee and employer. Mediation avoids these problems in the following ways:
- It is less stressful because there is no adversarial tribunal hearing involved. Instead the mediator will facilitate a calm and cooperative dispute resolution process.
- It is not lengthy because the mediation can take place as soon as the parties are ready to talk to one another. Arrangements can be made within weeks or even days and the proceedings are usually concluded within a day.
- It is less costly because mediation does not involve calling witnesses and introducing evidence all of which takes time and leads to delays.
Mediation is also a more attractive way to seek to resolve workplace disputes because the process of resolution helps maintain and not destroy workplace relations.
- It offers both employee and employer (not just lawyers) the opportunity to speak and to be heard. This can be healing and productive as parties can explain how they and others have been affected by the issues in dispute.
- It allows the parties to safely vent and move past emotional or other issues that are preventing a resolution of the dispute by using the mediator to facilitate their discussions.
- A mediation agreement is made by the parties – not imposed on them by a tribunal – thereby making it more likely to be accepted and to work in practice.
Finally, mediation is more flexible and creative than a Tribunal. While a Tribunal can make only a limited range of decisions, such as an award of compensation, a mediation agreement can provide for any creative solutions the parties want. Perhaps it is an apology, or a change of conditions at work or perhaps a new way of doing things. Whatever the solution, such an agreement is more likely to allow the parties to continue a satisfactory working relationship than a tribunal decision which leaves someone an unhappy loser.