Employment mediation is a process of mediation for disputes between employees and employers.
What is the difference between Mediation and Employment Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process whereby two or more parties agree to sit down and attempt to resolve their differences in an informal setting. There is no obligation to reach an agreement and sometimes, mediation can take multiple sessions to reach an agreement which may have never been achieved in a Court setting. Employment mediation is no different!
Why should you mediate your dispute?
Mediation has various positive benefits in comparison to instigating formal court or tribunal proceedings against your employer. These include:
- A cost-effective and informal process whereby you can speak openly about your concerns and any issues
- Customised settlement agreements which can be tailored to your unique situation
- The potential to preserve the relationship between parties within the confines of a confidential setting as opposed to arguing in open court, and
- The ability for a qualified mediator to work with you to resolve your dispute.
Please refer to our previous article Mediation or Court for a more in depth, comprehensive list of reasons to consider mediation if it is available to you.
What types of issues are handled by Employment Mediation?
There are still cases which will ultimately be decided in a formal Court setting. However, cases such as bullying, harassment or even the denial of certain fundamental workplace rights (such as conditions and pay) may be better dealt with confidentially through a tailored mediation process.
How does the process of mediation begin in Australia?
The terms ‘employee mediation program’ and ‘formal mediation requests’ are highly Americanised and not commonly used in Australia. Instead, the first step in many mediations in Australia is to raise your complaint in writing with your HR manager. This will enable your complaint to be put on the record and it officially informs all parties that there is a problem within the workplace.
Once HR are aware of the matter, if it is minor, they may be able to deal with it in-house. However, if the parties are highly emotional or one party does not believe that they will be treated fairly if it is dealt with in-house, then this is when engaging an external mediator may be appropriate. If both parties then subsequently consent to mediation, a date and time can be agreed upon and organised.
What type of mediator should I engage for my dispute?
It is commonly thought that all mediators offer the same service. This could not be further from the truth. Mediation services can range from purely facilitative mediation, whereby the mediator will never offer a legal opinion, to an evaluative mediator who freely offers opinions on your legal matter. Both parties are required to consent to whichever model is ultimately utilised.