In most organisations maintaining good morale is essential to ongoing success. But when disputes arise in the workplace they can quickly become unmanageable, leaving employer/employee relationships in an irreparable state and risking long-term reputation damage.
In many cases where a dispute arises neither the employer nor the employee truly wants to go as far as a Tribunal hearing, since this can be an expensive and drawn-out process. In an ideal situation, all disputes would be resolved in the workplace before the employment relationship is damaged or destroyed, and before any Tribunal claims are contemplated. The best solution, therefore, is often to try mediation first in order to resolve the issues and reach a mutually agreed settlement before disputes escalate into litigation. In fact, over 80% of mediations are successful, with a binding resolution or settlement reached by the parties.
At ThomasMansfield, we can help prepare the ground by providing basic mediation training to your managers, ensuring they have the skills to avoid disputes getting out of hand where at all possible. This training can be carried out in-house at your offices, helping you save both time and money when dealing with employee disputes. We can also help you with the formal process of mediation. A number of our specialist employment law solicitors are also fully qualified mediators, who can draw on their considerable experience to help you resolve disputes as quickly and effectively as possible, as well as finalise all the formal documentation following a successful mediation.
You may also be interested to know that the ACAS Code of Practice recommends mediation by an independent third party as a way of resolving workplace disputes without resorting to litigation. The intervention of an independent third party as mediator often has a calming effect on disputes since it is made clear from the outset that the mediator will not ‘take sides’. Both parties explain their position and the mediator will try to find a solution that either enables the parties to continue to work together or arranges an amicable parting of ways. Mediation can also provide some valuable remedies which cannot be achieved through litigation, for example the promise of an apology, making it very flexible.
When is mediation appropriate?
Mediation can be a successful method of settling disputes at all stages:
At an early stage, it can be used, for example:
- Where there is conflict between employees.
- When a grievance has been raised. In a disciplinary situation.
- When a complaint has been made.
At a later stage it can be used:
- When a claim has been submitted to an Employment Tribunal.
- During the litigation process, before a hearing has taken place.
What types of dispute are suitable for mediation and how does it work?
Not every dispute is suitable for mediation. It often works best in situations involving conflicts between individuals who find it hard to work together or where a breakdown of trust has occurred. If you would like an informal discussion with one of our experienced solicitors about whether mediation would work for you, then please call us on 020 7426 4900 or email: [email protected]
How much will it cost?
Mediation is frequently a very cost effective approach. There is a fixed cost for the mediation itself, either a half or full day, depending on the complexity of the issues. Any pre-reading will also be charged at the mediator’s hourly rate but the mediator will provide you with a fixed-price quotation to include everything that has been discussed. If the mediation continues after the agreed time, the mediator will then charge the additional time at their normal hourly rate.
If you would like to book a mediator or have any questions about anything relating to mediation or an employment dispute, then please contact us on 020 7426 4900 or email us: [email protected]. Any of our individual solicitors will also be happy to assist.