The Need for Employment Dispute Resolution in the Workplace

It doesn’t matter where you work – employment dispute resolution is an essential concept you should know about. This is because conflict can arise in any organisation; it occurs when people disagree on a matter and cannot solve it.

A professional arbitrator can help facilitate a fair discussion between all parties in order to help them come to an agreement. This ensures that the business can operate effectively and ensure that all staff feel respected and understood.

This article shares the basics of employment dispute resolution and what you need to know about it.

What it is

It is essentially the process of bringing a conflict or disagreement to an end. This can be done in one of several ways:

  • Negotiating an outcome between all involved parties on their own terms
  • Negotiating an outcome using the support of an independent arbitrator; or
  • Having the court or an arbitrator decide how to settle the conflict using a binding decision through adjudication.

Mediation is voluntary – no one can be forced to do it, they have to want to.

Features of good mediation

Doing employment dispute resolution properly involves:

  • Being simple and transparent – all staff should know what the process involves
  • Being addressed early on – working on the problem quickly helps avoid escalation of conflict
  • Being fair – all parties need to be consulted and allowed to share their version of the story
  • Dealt with sensitively; it should be confidential to reduce impact on staff
  • Ensuring employment dispute resolution follows stages so that issues can be effectively dealt with; and
  • Encouraging all involved to be open, respectful and inquisitive.

The procedures ideally should not interfere with the operation of the workplace, and staff should be able to continue working throughout the process – of course, as long as it is safe to do so.

The process

The process of employment dispute resolution usually involves the following steps:

  1. Staff meets with their supervisor to share their concerns.
  2. The supervisor listens to them and attempts to help them find a solution.
  3. If a solution cannot be found, the matter is taken to senior management.
  4. Senior management addresses the matter and either solves it or refers it to a higher body.
  5. This continues until it is dealt with; if it cannot be dealt with then an independent third party will be brought in to assist.
  6. An arbitrator or conciliator comes and helps the parties come to a solution.
  7. If they cannot reach a solution, the matter may be taken to court and a binding decision will be made by the court.

Terms of getting an arbitrator

There are specific conditions that must be met in order to get a mediator in to help deal with the conflict, such as:

  • All involved parties have agreed to be involved in employment dispute resolution
  • It is not a matter regarding if the boss was allowed to refuse giving staff flexible working arrangements or to refuse extending unpaid parental leave
  • The clause in their agreement or award allows them to do so.

Ensuring that the employment dispute resolution process is kept confidential, fair and simple is ideal for making it effective. You should also ensure that all staff are aware of the process. When conflict arises, you will want to work towards maintaining healthy relationships between staff, and goal set & problem solve. Comply with the process quickly and do your best to deal with the issue in the workplace. If this cannot be done then it may be time to hire a third party mediator.

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