Workplace Mediation – Has it really got legs?
So, most of you know that in recent times I qualified as a workplace mediator. I am of course also a qualified lawyer.
When I undertook the course in London I was the only privately paying person on it. My cohort were mostly public-sector employees and this really surprised me; not that the public sector could see value in the course and its application in the workplace but that the private sector could not.
As an employment lawyer, I often sit in meetings with corporate clients and their HR teams and wonder how we ever got to that place. Situations often involve line manager and employee disputes, allegations of bullying and harassment, protracted grievances whereby each party has become entrenched and also the costs of the matter have become disproportionate.
With my lawyer hat on I am not complaining about fees but from a human perspective such acrimony is not good for the employees or the business.
Did you know that as part of Employment Tribunal proceedings following a case management hearing, the prospect of a judicial mediation is put to the parties? At this point significant costs have been incurred by both parties.
I have sat through a few of these and they are often very useful for example, you can get things out of a mediated settlement that you can’t from litigation. Effectively you can make your own terms and it may surprise you that often employees just want an apology and an acknowledgment for how they have felt.
With this in mind, I wonder why most workplaces don’t have an appointed mediation service as a matter of course.
To offer this service at an early stage of dispute in the workplace might resolve issues without the need for litigation and it would certainly clarify the party’s needs.
It is certainly a demonstration of a desire to assist party’s to resolve any internal issues on the employer’s part and if they fail to take it up then what is lost.
If party’s do take it up and it’s successful then there may be everything to gain.