In the words of Sir Richard Branson “A company’s employees are it’s greatest asset and your people are your product“.
Workplace and Employment mediation
Workplace disputes can be premised on many different situation or grievance types, and might span a mix of behaviour, acts and omissions, and/or the circumstances in which a person or group’s employment is terminated or altered. All such situations or grievances – for example, furlough disputes and changed working conditions, unfair or wrongful dismissal claims, or instances of possible discrimination, all have potential to escalate into formal court or tribunal proceedings.
The conciliatory nature of mediation should enable the continuation or reinstatement of a workplace relationship, if desirable, or otherwise allow the optimum settlement from both a personal and business organisational standpoint if the termination of the employment is preferred. The often thought provoking content of mediation, can also prompt employers to review any outdated practices and policies.
A skilled mediator offers neutrality, impartiality and confidentiality to all matters referred, but will establish both parties’ trust and confidence and facilitate often difficult dialogue, to identify the issues and allow the parties to settle those in a mutually agreeable manner.
“Mediation may not suit all disputes, all the time, but it should always be lodged in the conscience of parties and their advisers alike, as a course worth trying” (Latitude)
Assisting Businesses & HR Professionals
Early intervention is key and many situations need proactive management before they emerge into a legal dispute. Many workplace conflicts and differences are forgotten about or put down to workplace politics and daily life resumes, but sometimes if left unchecked, they will lead to full-blown litigation. COVID19 has created disparity in working conditions and relations worldwide and the frequency of workplace disputes are sadly at an unprecedented high. The tension and friction among the workforce with any dispute will not only impact on the individuals motivation, engagement and performance, but can potentially also impact on the overall morale and social glue holding the business together. Early, proactive management and intervention from an independent, neutral external party, who can provide complete confidentiality to participants and facilitate difficult conversations, is crucial.
Latitude Mediation are proud to assist businesses with their internal disputes, and will ensure that each mediation is dynamic. We usually liaise with HR or senior professionals in charge of employee welfare and support and we will develop the most suitable mediation for you. It is hoped that upon conslusion of the process participants will be content to allow our mediators to liaise with those HR professionals in order to provide helpful feedback and recommendations, but the mediation will be conducted on the basis that the process is confidential between the participants unless specifically agreed by them both. This is of course in line with usual mediation principles but clarification of this point enables mediators to work more closely with individuals without fear of reprise from their employer.
Nonetheless, once agreement has been reached it is very often the case that an element of liaison with a suitably qualified individual within the business will be helpful and agreeable for the participants. This may be to clarify certain provisions within the agreement and/or to ensure that the resolution can be accomodated within the business.
When you Can Mediate
Mediation is available as a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR, or nowadays DR), at any stage either prior to the commencement of formal legal proceedings or indeed at any time up until the final hearing if formal proceedings have already been commenced with the Tribunal.
Who Can Attend the Mediation
Besides the participants themselves, mediations can also be attended by their representatives or a colleague. All persons attending the Mediation will sign a confidentiality agreement.
Prior to the Mediation
The participants’ agreed mediation format will usually involve each participant meeting privately with the mediator around a week before the mediation. This will allow them an opportunity to meet with their mediator, to discuss the issues in more detail, and of course for the participants to individually raise any questions they may have. There is rarely a need to submit formal papers or information to the mediator but it is sometimes helpful if there are complex issues in question, or multiple parties involved.
At the current time, most mediations are being conducted using an online platform and video conferencing (Online Dispute Resolution/ ODR). Although in-person, or indeed ‘blended’ mediations are also available if desirable). Participants are able to mediate virtually from home and we will assist fully in instigating and running the process, including a practise call prior to the mediation if helpful.
On mediation day there isn’t, nor is there really designed to be, a strict formula for how the mediation progresses; it is a deliberately dynamic process, for optimum effectiveness. The Mediator will of course provide direction and the participants are free to break as they wish. In practice the mediating participants will influence the pace of the mediation.
The Mediation Agreement
The participants control all elements of the eventual settlement agreement; a signed, binding document capturing how the matter(s) in dispute is to be resolved by reference to various assurances, promises, actions, undertakings, and so on. Upon reaching and signing a final agreement, formal proceedings will be discontinued and the parties are free to move forwards.
If a full settlement does not transpire from the participants’ efforts to mediate, the mediation should still be expected to help narrow, dilute or dispense with some aspects of the matter(s) in dispute. In this way mediation will mitigate/ reduce the ongoing cost of any formal proceedings, which will recommence in the event that settlement efforts are not successful.
Duration of the Mediation
A mediation will usually target a conclusion within the span of half a day to a day, depending on circumstances and complexity (smaller claim mediations can take place over an hour or two). Online Dispute Resolution has proven very effective in providing parties with greater flexibility in the timings during the mediation.
Code of Practice
All our workplace mediators have significant mediation experience and are fully accredited and insured as such. We are fully compliant with the European Code of Practice for Mediators 2004 and Latitude Mediation Code of Practice 2020. See also Latitude Mediation Rules 2020.
Meet the Team
The mediation fee will include a preliminary meeting with participants prior to the mediation. On average a 3-4 hour mediation will have a fee of around £600 – £1,200 (total, not per party) based on two participants.
More Complex Workplace Issues
For more complex or sensitive disputes, Latitude Mediation also provides comprehensive consultancy support and has a number of experts in more detailed reporting/ assessment work. This consultancy support could be concluded as quickly as a 2-3 day on-site analysis (when COVID allows) or a business may prefer the comfort of having accessible longer term support. Mediation support is very likely to form part of the consultancy works, but consideration of and recommendations on policies, procedures and training often also fall out of the process.
Ultimately, we are happy to provide a bespoke package for businesses and if necessary to deviate from the standard workplace mediation format, we will provide a written tender for the works