Work-place mediation is that type of mediation followed in the disputes which are an amalgamation of all the labour, employee and industrial disputes mainly related to the professional arena. This includes labour strikes, professional mistakes, employer-employee disputes, employee disputes, etc.
All kinds of organizations -public or private have three important considerations in common -Reputation, Reliability, and Revenue.
These three considerations are the major reasons that the organizations are not bent onto using litigation as a tool for dispute resolution and utilize other methods of dispute resolution as an alternative. An organization’s reputation is an asset. Reputation in the market brings in clients, increases credibility, increases the scope of a business, enhances growth and thus regulates the economy of the organization. However, building a reputation is a lengthy process. It takes a great amount of effort to spread through a large number of years to ultimately gain a reputation in the market.
If there is a dispute between two people or a person and the organization or the organization and a group of persons and the dispute is decided to be resolved by litigation it causes damage to the reputation of the organization.
Litigation requires the organization to visit the court and at times face trial situations. The audience in the court is witness to the trial which is a major blow to the reputation of the organization. Therefore organizations prefer using mediation as a method of dispute resolution because of the confidentiality of the process.
A good organization works on its reliability because reliability is a stick used by organizations to expand its business. Any organization which is non-reliable does not gain reputation or revenue in the market. Any dispute that arises in the market about its reliability is fatal to the organization. Organizations are based on the trust that people have towards those, any small error could possibly ruin the hard-earned reliability. Furthermore, reliability is a major concern of the organizations that deal with items of food and health, including pharmaceutical medicines.
For example, in the case of Maggie, the business took a steep fall after the allegations of excessive lead content in it. Disputes about organizations that can possibly question the reliability of the organization should be handled very carefully.
Mediation is preferred by the organizations in such cases because of the advantages that mediation has to that of litigation. The objective of all the organizations is earning profit. Organizations work to create revenue. In a litigation suit the organizations have to incur heavy losses not only from the successive fees to be given to the counsels, but also the amount to be spent increases when the litigation relegates the reputation and the reliability of the organization. In a mediation session, confidentiality does not only save it from the losses but also prevents the drain of wealth such as fees to the council and other court fees.
Apart from the three considerations that the organizations passionately protect, Labour is also considered as one of the important considerations of any organization. Labour is the life of any organization, the organizations intently maintain the quality and efficiency of the labor. Litigation amongst laborers or amongst the organization and the labours would mean that the organization does not take effective care towards its workers. It is a setback to the organization’s reputation and an impediment in the future recruitment of workers.
Disputes that can arise in a workplace
- Strikes by Labour Union
All organizations have labor unions which are groups of employees who look after the needs of the employees and are concerned with the improvement of the employment standards of the employees. Labour unions are normally very active. They call for a strike whenever any employee is subjected to ruthless behavior by the employer.
Labour unions agitate over issues such as conditions of employment, payment schemes, subjugation or harsh behavior by an employer, administrative malpractices, granting of relief hours, working conditions etc. The employer is in a vulnerable position when faced by the labour union because labour unions often turn violent and hurl slogans to agitate the employer.
Mediation is the best way to solve the dispute in labour union problems because the leader represents the union in mediation so there is no scope of violence. Furthermore, mediation lifts up the strike quickly and restores original working conditions in the organization.
- A mistake by a professional of a company
The professionals in a company in their human capacities can be prone to mistakes, for example, overlooking of date sheets, mistakes in a medical or legal field or even the mistakes of bankers. These mistakes can cause serious repercussions to the extent of charging heavy compensation from the professional or even putting a ban on his practicing for a certain period of time. The company would be vicariously liable for the mistake caused by the professional.
The reputation and the reliability of the organization will be at risk. In such cases, mediation is the best way to seek compensation for the mistake caused. Both parties are given a reasonable scope of explanation after which compensation is decided upon.
- A dispute between two employees
A dispute between two employees can come about because of a plethora of reasons, belonging to all fields of law. Cases can range from sexual harassment, assault, slander, libel to promotional aspects and a lot more.
The dispute between two different employees tenses the environment of the entire place of work. the organization here is liable to initiate mediation prospects between the parties because the dispute came about at the time of their work.
Mediation is the best way to resolve the dispute between two employees and in certain circumstances get the required compensation. The mediators act as counselors bridging the gap between the parties.
- A dispute between employer and employee
The employer and the employee can be caught in a dispute over the terms and the conditions of the employment, promotional aspects, examination for induction, service schedule, number of hours, remuneration, increment in salary, etc. The parties in a mediation session are considered to be equal. Unlike, the setting at the court, the influential employer cannot manipulate the process of mediation.
For the successful resolution of disputes, both parties have to sacrifice and both parties should have the intention of settling the dispute. In the dispute between the employer and the employee until and unless both the employer and the employee are satisfied, the mediation will not be considered successful. Mediation is a non-aggressive process and will ensure that good relations remain between the employer and the employee even after the completion of the mediation.
Role of the mediator to resolve disputes in a work-place mediation
The arbitrator should endeavor to bridge the gap between the parties in a dispute. The mediator has to understand the vulnerable position of the parties in the dispute because of the dispute being related to their source of income. The arbitrator should effectively diffuse the tensions between that prevail between the parties. The arbitrator should ensure the participation of both parties in the negotiation.
He should be careful about the employers who would try to assert their power to grab the best deal. The arbitrator should ensure that there is no intimidation by any party at the opposite party. After setting the agenda, the mediator should let the other parties feel that the process would be absolutely confidential and private.
The mediators will have to be careful while handling the sensitive information. Leakage of sensitive information would be a drawback to the process. In the end the arbitrator should encourage the parties to maintain cordial relations with one another.
Advantages of mediation in the workplace
- Mediation is a non-aggressive process.
The policy of mediation is to establish a win-win situation where both parties’ interests are equally relevant. Until both parties are satisfied with the outcome the mediation will not be successful. Thus, mediation takes a completely different principle from the win-lose principal followed in litigation. In workplace mediation, the stakes are high for the organization as well as the workers. Workers and organizations have close relations with one another.
In this case, it is important to maintain a decorum in the dispute resolution process. Unlike litigation in mediation, the parties do not hurl abuses at each other and bring out each other’s faults. It is detrimental to the relationship between an employer and an employee or between employees in the future. Mediation tries to cover up the damage and does not cause additional damage.
- Mediation sessions are confidential in nature
As mentioned above the 3 Rs which are essential considerations to the organization require the dispute resolution to be confidential and in private. Confidentiality is not always feasible in a litigation suit. Mediation promises that the parties feel comfortable that the process will be in absolute secrecy.
In addition to this, there may be an engagement of some confidential information regarding the functioning of the organization revealed during the time of the mediation which is highly classified. Revealing such information in the courtroom might lead to the loss on the part of the company.
- Mediation is a client-driven process
In a mediation session, the parties actually have a scope of talking to each other. The ambiance and the setting facilitate the clearing of doubts and sorting of allegations hurled at from both sides. An employee may have many allegations against the employer and vice-versa. Both of them can effectively resolve their disputes without any courtroom drama in a mediation session.
The mediators are welcoming and make it easy for the parties to open up their hearts to each other. The parties in a dispute can control the process of mediation, and effectively schedule dates that would be comfortable for both parties.
- Mediation is a speedy way of dispute resolution
Mediation is considered to be a speedy process of dispute resolution because it does not depend on lengthy processes, paperwork, evidence, and trials. This is beneficial in the case of labour strikes where the workers stop working until the organization bends to their demands because the shutdown situation of an organization would lead to its loss.
However, in certain cases neither of the parties agrees to accept the proposal by the other party in such situations the parties can walk-away and an impasse is created. In such situations, mediation is unsuccessful.
- Mediation is cheaper than litigation
Litigation involves drainage of wealth from both parties in the form of fees for the council and court-related fees. Workplace disputes often involve workers who are not financially strong enough to afford the lengthy and costly litigation process. Mediation comes to the rescue.
The only price to bear in the process of mediation is that of the fees of a mediator.
- Good relations can be sustained even after the dispute
Since mediation is a non-aggressive process, it does not widen the gap between the parties. The parties in a dispute can be colleagues who would be working with each other after the dispute is resolved.
Mediation serves as the perfect platform for discussion and negotiating ways of arriving at a position which would be beneficial for both the parties.
Since talking is the best way to resolve any dispute mediation helps one understand the problem of one’s opponent. Thus dispute is resolved through understanding which ultimately paves the way for the preservation of good relations.