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Workplace Mediation – Blessed Are the Peacemakers!

Monday, Apr-22, 2024

Making peace in the workplace can prevent issues from escalating. McCormicks Solicitors’ Head of Employment Law Iain Jenkins takes a look at the process.

Workplace Mediation – Blessed Are the Peacemakers!

“What about the cheesemakers?” or at least that was the bounce back which still makes me laugh in the film The Life of Brian! So who are the peacemakers in the workplace? They could of course be existing employees with no training who are able to come in and sort out a dispute between colleagues or teams of colleagues where a break down is causing major issues.

These issues can of course ultimately lead to the termination of employment whether by dismissal or resignation and then a claim for unfair or constructive unfair dismissal. An issue might take on a life of its own, careering out of control with nobody able to manage it. What should an employer do in this case? There is a desire, often a need, to retain and motivate highly-qualified individuals or teams of workers. Expertise and hierarchies can mean big egos though. Can an employee not really help out?

One thing employers should consider is the involvement of an independent third party in the form of a workplace mediator. This will be a trained and qualified mediator who will spend time separately with the parties involved and ultimately hopefully bring them together to find a resolution and way forward. This way forward can be monitored. Within reason anything can be agreed. Workplace mediation appears to be much more common in the public sector and in my experience it is not often part of an SME’s thinking when it comes to workplace issues. Perhaps an early intervention by a workplace mediator could be a sensible and cost-effective strategy.

Please feel free to ask if you any guidance on this.

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