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Read more articles in: Amanda Hyam, Blog, Employment Law

Mediation offers a solution to workplace disputes

Disputes in the workplace can be time-consuming, costly and worrying for both employers and employees.

It is a stressful environment and instead of using the company’s in-house grievance procedure, sometimes it is necessary to involve a third party.

Workplace mediation is increasingly popular amongst UK companies who now use it as an effective way to resolve disputes at work. It allows parties to work to explore the dispute and all the possible solutions together.

Statistics show that more than 70 per cent of mediation cases settle either on the day or shortly thereafter.

Common disputes arising in the workplace include:

  • Bullying and harassment
  • Communication problems
  • Personality clashes
  • Relationship breakdown within a team
  • Cultural misunderstandings

A mediator is an impartial third party charged with facilitating discussion to find a resolution to the dispute in an informal and confidential environment.

It is a voluntary process and not usually legally binding, but allows an amount of flexibility.

The purpose is not to judge who was right or wrong, but looks at how to agree on working together in the future.

From a business point of view a successful resolution can:

  • Repair working relationships within teams
  • Avoid losing valuable employees
  • Clear the air to prevent further grievances
  • Avoid the costs of an employment tribunal

Successful outcomes might include a change of behaviour by acknowledging both parties’ points of view.

It could also include looking at working practices and agreeing to regularly review the procedures.

It can also help avoid bad publicity outside of the business and avoid creating low morale in the workforce.

Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and should be considered before issuing legal proceedings.

Judges are increasingly encouraging parties in disputes to use mediation as an alternative to using the court process, thereby freeing up courts for cases that cannot be dealt with elsewhere.

Need advice on related legal employment matters? Contact our team today.

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