Advertisement: open in new window
A pilot scheme for two SME mediation networks has been unveiled by the government today as part of its reform of the employment tribunal system.The first regional networks will be in Cambridge and Manchester, where the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will fund mediation training for employees from a group of 24 SMEs.The pilots – to be rolled out at the end of this year – will also see participating organisations benefit from access to a fully trained mediation team, in a bid to settle disagreements before they reach the tribunal stage.“We have always said that employment tribunals should be a last resort for resolving workplace disputes,” said employment relations minister Edward Davey.“Mediation offers an informal method of dispute resolution and can be used at the point when problems first arise in the workplace,” he continued. “For both employers and employees it can mean avoiding the need for formal discipline and grievance procedures. And it can also mean avoiding the time-consuming, complex and often stressful employment tribunal process.” The intention to pilot two regional mediation networks was published in the government’s response to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation.A significant proportion of respondents to the consultation said they did not use, rarely used or had never experienced mediation – with SMEs in particular unaware of the benefits of the process.Mike Emmott, the CIPD’s employee relations adviser, said the institute welcomed the pilot programme and the promotion of mediation among SMEs, who might be “nervous” of the technique and possible associated costs.“It’s good to get employers and employees used to the idea of mediation, and it is striking how little it is used,” he said. “This scheme is about developing in-house capability, with employers able set up a team of competent mediators. It’s also likely the scheme will be broad enough to embrace activities such as training line managers to deal with difficult conversations.”The pilots will run for 12 months and could be introduced into other areas if proved successful. The government has today opened a tender to find a provider to deliver the first round of mediation training, and will select the 24 SMEs taking part later in 2012.There were 218,000 tribunal claims in 2010/11 – a rise of 44 per cent since 2008/09 – with businesses spending an average of nearly £4,000 to defend each claim. There is an additional average cost to the taxpayer of £1,900 per claim, according to government figures.
The first challenge with mediation to develop a high level of trust, is the mediator, from both parties. I see that as difficult when one party introduces the other. If the introducer is a neutral third party then that may be different.<br/>The second challenge is that once a Tribunal claim has been filed both parties are in a high level of contention. At that point Mediation feels like "backing off" and, indeed, if a mediated settlement is achieved it may be no more than a compromise agreement by a different name.
I am an experienced and qualified employment mediator (and executive coach and mentor)with a Masters in HRM. I am a long standing member of CIPS. Anecdotally costs of mediation appear very high in some areas. Personally I have always maintained very competitive fees as I prefer the goodwill and repeat business.
Have your say...<br/><br/>Can not agree more with Hansa and am sure many of my current HR and Organisational Psychology professionals would agree that the benefits of Interpersonal mediation (in house and or external) as a low cost solution to engaging dissipating workforce in the current harsh climate will prove yet and yet again! a cost effective; timely and efficent way of solving diputes and 'repairing' and 'healing' (workplace) relationships. <br/><br/>As an accredited mediator and a HR professional who has introduced and supprted internal schemes I welcome the pilot and would be happy to hear back from Mike/anyone else (from SME's/any other organisations) wishing to find out how the mediation can support businesss as a low cost solution. I am a CIPD member and long standing member of the HR and Occ Psych profession.
Have your say...These figures are alarming. Have additional costs of stress, sickness absence, employee disengagement, low morale. loss of productivity etc also been taken into account while the formal proccedings are ongoing?<br/><br/>Mediation is, without doubt, a much better and cost effective option.<br/><br/>Hansa Pankhania<br/>Stress and Management Consultant<br/>
I've used external mediation twice. I found it very expensive and, unfortunately, completely unhelpful in resolving the problem. That said an in-house attend did seem to work - so this sounds like a good way forward.