Employment Disputes – How a Solicitor Can Help You cni.1888932-2946.ws

If you’re employing other people, there’s always a possibility that you may end up being involved in an employment dispute. In this article, we take a look at how a solicitor can help you to resolve employment disputes, should they arise.

The chances of being involved in an employment dispute can be minimised by ensuring that you follow the correct procedures when advertising vacancies, recruiting staff, drawing up terms and conditions of employment and making staff redundant. However, you may find that a member of staff is unhappy with an aspect of your employment and decides to take this further. Alternatively, you may be unsatisfied with an employee’s performance and decide to take action, in which case a dispute may arise.

Grievance and Disciplinary Proceedings

Most issues arising between an employer and employees should initially be dealt with through the employer’s internal grievance or disciplinary procedures. Therefore, it’s important that you provide details of these procedures in your company’s staff handbook and that all staff can access a copy of these easily. It’s also vital that your grievance and disciplinary procedures comply with current employment law, so it’s worth asking your employment solicitor to help you to draw them up and review them regularly.

If an employee decides to raise a grievance or you decide that you need to take disciplinary action in respect of an employee’s performance or behaviour, consult your employment solicitor as soon as possible. Your solicitor will be able to discuss the specific case with you and advise you about how best to proceed. By doing this, you can rest assured that you are complying with relevant employment law throughout the process.

Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration

Issues between an employer and employee are often able to be resolved during an internal grievance or disciplinary procedure. However, sometimes further discussions are necessary. There are three main processes available – mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

Mediation involves the employer and employee discussing the situation with an independent party, known as a mediator. The mediator can often help the employer and employee to come to an agreement without needing to take the dispute to an employment tribunal. Conciliation is a very similar process, also involving a mediator. However, conciliation usually takes place when an employee is considering taking his or her employer to an employment tribunal or has already made a claim to an employment tribunal.

The third process, arbitration, is similar but the independent party involved, the arbitrator, listens to both sides of the dispute and makes a firm decision about the case.

Many firms of solicitors provide assistance with mediation, conciliation and arbitration processes and these can be quicker and cheaper solutions to employment disputes than going to an employment tribunal.

Employment Tribunals

If you are unable to settle a dispute with your employees, your employee may decide to make a claim and take you to an employment tribunal. At an employment tribunal, the case will be heard by a panel which will usually include a qualified employment judge and the panel will make a decision and decide whether compensation should be awarded. Employment tribunals hear cases relating to a number of different types of employment issues, including unfair dismissal, discrimination and breach of contract. Decisions made by an employment tribunal are legally binding.

If an employee decides to take their case to an employment tribunal, you should consult your employment solicitor as soon as possible. Your employment solicitor will be able to discuss the process with you, help you to prepare your case and represent you at the tribunal.

This article is intended as a general guide only and provides an overview of some of the legal issues that may need to be considered. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. We recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of this information.

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Advantages of Mediation for Resolution of Employment Disputes Employment Disputes

The Costs of Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace should be of utmost concern to businesses. In fact, research by CPP, Inc. indicates that employees around the world deal with conflict, on average, 2.1 hours a week, or one day a month. In the US, that number rises to 2.8 hours a week. Failure to address such conflict can lead to loss of productivity, inefficiency and loss of morale. In addition, CCR International estimates that employee-related conflict leads to both absenteeism and turnover – both at obvious financial cost to employers. According to researcher and psychologist Daniel Dana, “[u]nresolved conflict represents the largest reducible cost in many businesses, yet it remains largely unrecognized.”

A Possible Solution A possible solution to workplace conflict is mediation. Although many perceive mediation as applicable only to matters that are in litigation, mediation can also be used even at the early stages of conflict, and in many cases mediation is most effective when used early, before any case has been filed. While human resource departments are often used to handle employee disputes, in many cases the HR professional is not seen as impartial. An outside, neutral party can be more effective where perceived bias of the HR professional is of concern.

How Does Mediation Work? Mediation is a confidential dispute resolution process in which the parties take an active role in resolving their disputes. Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator does not impose a particular solution, but rather facilitates the parties’ own discussion and helps them create their own solution. Through a variety of techniques, including careful listening and restating of the parties’ concerns, a skilled mediator is able to defuse some of the tension inherent in any dispute so that the parties can communicate more effectively.

The structure of the mediation is fairly simple. The parties begin by each presenting their perspectives regarding the dispute, during which time the other party is asked to listen openly. Next, the mediator helps the parties create a list of issues to be discussed. Once these issues have been fully aired, the parties work together to generate options for resolution. In this phase of the mediation, the parties are urged to be creative and open, and to refrain from judging the proposals. After reviewing and discussing the options, the parties then move into the negotiations phase of the mediation, during which they consider the various options and work towards resolution.

Advantages of Mediation

  • Mediation, unlike litigation, is a confidential process; neither the parties nor the mediator may reveal to outsiders what occurred in the mediation.
  • Early resolution of an employment dispute through mediation may minimize losses that come from absenteeism, loss of productivity, and employee turnover.
  • Early mediation, by preventing litigation, may also prevent expensive legal costs that could occur down the road.

Resume the Mission of the Organization Given the significant costs of un-resolved conflict in the workplace, employers should consider offering mediation to their employees. Use of the mediation process will, in many cases, lead to improved morale so that employees can get back to the mission of the organization.

Advantages of Mediation for Resolution of Employment Disputes