TCM responds to governments workplace dispute resolution consultation
In January 2011, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launched a major review of workplace dispute resolution. TCM has responded to the consultation
This consultation, conducted by the Department for Business, Skills & Innovation (BIS) and the Ministry of Justice’s Tribunals Service, is a significant first step in taking forward the Government’s review of employment law.
The TCM Group is delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to this consultation process and we look forward to working with the Coalition Government and its partners along with employers, employees and key stakeholders to increase the use of mediation as a tool for the constructive, speedy and cost effective resolution of workplace disputes.
Over the past 10 years, we have gathered substantial evidence that mediation works and that it delivers lasting results. It contributes to personal and business growth.
There can be no doubt that the best time to offer mediation is early in a dispute whilst the parties retain a stake in the employment relationship and before lawyers become involved. The speed by which disputes become formalised via grievance procedures or Employment Tribunals undermines early dispute resolution - leading instead to a sense that the dispute can be codified in financial terms or in terms of entitlements and rights.
Such formal processes block rational thinking - they are illogical and they harden and entrench positions. In this context it is hard to encourage mediation. Paradoxically, the battle or the fight becomes seductive and alluring.
In our experience, all to often, formal dispute resolution mechanisms promote entrenchment and perpetuate conflict. The parties view, and this is a view that many lawyers are all too ready to encourage, the dispute as a battle between right and wrong, a battle of principles and values - it is a battle that must be won or lost and for the loser - there must be pain, suffering and humiliation. Disputes are no longer seen as an opportunity for mature debate, building empathy or reaching greater mutual understanding. This is the position that we need to get back to. Mediation offers this and more.
By offering mediation at an early stage – employees and employers can retain (and in many cases strengthen) the psychological contract which is key to effective employee relations and to growth. We urge the Coalition Government to encourage more employees and employers to use mediation and to reduce the barriers to mediation.