Employers Reveal Support For Use Of Mediation

Research Sheds Light On Employment Law Issue

24.05.2011

A recent survey, conducted by the online HR and employment information service Xpert HR, has found that over three-quarters of all the employers surveyed believe mediation and other third party interventions can reduce the number of tribunal claims they face.

The survey canvassed 190 employers and also found that external ad-hoc mediators are the most common form of mediation service used.

These findings marry with the Government’s recent trend towards promoting mediation and conciliation as an early, and cheaper, method of bringing workplace disputes to an end, without the need for employment tribunal involvement.

A consultation launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in January titled “Resolving Workplace Disputes” outlined a set of proposals aimed at ensuring swift and early resolution of employment claims within the workplace using mediation as one of the first steps towards settling workplace disputes. The results of the consultation are yet to be published.

Commenting on the issue of mediation, Emily Aryeetey, a solicitor and employment law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said: “There has been a steady move towards using mediation more and more over recent years.

“We have even seen mediation pilot schemes overseen by a judge at employment tribunals in London, Birmingham and Newcastle since 2006. This method of workplace dispute resolution is now on offer if a judge considers it to be suitable in any particular case.

“Unfortunately, the results of the pilots were less than encouraging according to the government’s evaluation due to the limited cost savings achieved and the insubstantial increase in settlements reached.

“When considered in relation to the Xpert HR employer survey, this suggests that careful selection of appropriate cases is required.

“It is vital to bear in mind that it remains a decision in each case as to whether or not mediation is suitable to the specific circumstances of the matter. For example, where there is an ongoing employment relationship and the parties are willing to mediate the process may be more likely to achieve results.”