If you’re employing other people, there’s always a possibility that you may end up being involved in an employment dispute. In this article, we take a look at how a solicitor can help you to resolve employment disputes, should they arise.
The chances of being involved in an employment dispute can be minimised by ensuring that you follow the correct procedures when advertising vacancies, recruiting staff, drawing up terms and conditions of employment and making staff redundant. However, you may find that a member of staff is unhappy with an aspect of your employment and decides to take this further. Alternatively, you may be unsatisfied with an employee’s performance and decide to take action, in which case a dispute may arise.
Grievance and Disciplinary Proceedings
Most issues arising between an employer and employees should initially be dealt with through the employer’s internal grievance or disciplinary procedures. Therefore, it’s important that you provide details of these procedures in your company’s staff handbook and that all staff can access a copy of these easily. It’s also vital that your grievance and disciplinary procedures comply with current employment law, so it’s worth asking your employment solicitor to help you to draw them up and review them regularly.
If an employee decides to raise a grievance or you decide that you need to take disciplinary action in respect of an employee’s performance or behaviour, consult your employment solicitor as soon as possible. Your solicitor will be able to discuss the specific case with you and advise you about how best to proceed. By doing this, you can rest assured that you are complying with relevant employment law throughout the process.
Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration
Issues between an employer and employee are often able to be resolved during an internal grievance or disciplinary procedure. However, sometimes further discussions are necessary. There are three main processes available – mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
Mediation involves the employer and employee discussing the situation with an independent party, known as a mediator. The mediator can often help the employer and employee to come to an agreement without needing to take the dispute to an employment tribunal. Conciliation is a very similar process, also involving a mediator. However, conciliation usually takes place when an employee is considering taking his or her employer to an employment tribunal or has already made a claim to an employment tribunal.
The third process, arbitration, is similar but the independent party involved, the arbitrator, listens to both sides of the dispute and makes a firm decision about the case.
Many firms of solicitors provide assistance with mediation, conciliation and arbitration processes and these can be quicker and cheaper solutions to employment disputes than going to an employment tribunal.
If you are unable to settle a dispute with your employees, your employee may decide to make a claim and take you to an employment tribunal. At an employment tribunal, the case will be heard by a panel which will usually include a qualified employment judge and the panel will make a decision and decide whether compensation should be awarded. Employment tribunals hear cases relating to a number of different types of employment issues, including unfair dismissal, discrimination and breach of contract. Decisions made by an employment tribunal are legally binding.
If an employee decides to take their case to an employment tribunal, you should consult your employment solicitor as soon as possible. Your employment solicitor will be able to discuss the process with you, help you to prepare your case and represent you at the tribunal.
This article is intended as a general guide only and provides an overview of some of the legal issues that may need to be considered. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. We recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of this information.