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  • Writer's pictureSarah Bays

Workplace Tribunal vs Mediation: Paul Strelitz Barrister Advocates for Mediation


Introduction:


In the ever-evolving landscape of employment law, staying informed about the latest trends and insights is crucial. At a conference entitled “Resolution not Revolution” hosted at Newmarket Racecourse by Birketts LLP last week, barrister Paul Strelitz shed light on the current state of employment tribunals, revealing a staggering backlog of 471,000 outstanding cases and 24,000 new claims in the first quarter of the 2023/24 fiscal year. The ensuing delays in the resolution of these disputes prompted Paul to advocate strongly for an alternative approach: mediation.


The conference and its excellent speakers inspired me to put some content together to explain why employers should be looking to mediate at the very first sign of dispute with an employee as an alternative way to resolve the issues long before the possibility of an employment tribunal raises its head.



a rope strained by a heavy weight
The immense strain this backlog places on the legal system, is leaving both employers and employees in limbo


Understanding the Tribunal Backlog:


The overwhelming backlog of employment tribunal cases is a cause for alarm, signaling systemic challenges in the current dispute resolution process. The immense strain this backlog places on the legal system, is leaving both employers and employees in limbo as they wait for their day in court. The resulting delays not only prolong the resolution process but also incur significant costs for all parties involved.


Mediation as a Safer Route:


Mediation is a safer and more efficient route for resolving employment conflicts than relying solely on the tribunal system. Mediation involves an impartial third party, the mediator, who facilitates communication between the disputing parties to help them reach a mutually agreeable solution. Unlike the formal and adversarial nature of tribunals, mediation fosters collaboration and encourages open dialogue.


Benefits of Mediation:


Cost-Effective:


Mediation is generally more cost-effective than going through the lengthy and often expensive tribunal process. Legal fees, court costs, and other related expenses can escalate quickly in a tribunal setting, placing a heavy financial burden on both employers and employees.


Time-Efficient:


The protracted delays in the tribunal system can extend the resolution process for months or even years. Mediation, on the other hand, is known for its efficiency. Disputes can be addressed and resolved in a much shorter timeframe, allowing parties to move forward without the extended stress and uncertainty.


Preservation of Relationships:


Mediation focuses on finding common ground and preserving relationships. In an employment context, maintaining a positive working relationship between employer and employee can be crucial for the overall well-being of the workplace. A mediated resolution often results in a more amicable and constructive outcome.


Confidentiality:


Unlike tribunal proceedings, which are typically public, mediation is a private process. This confidentiality allows parties to discuss sensitive matters openly without fear of public scrutiny. This can be particularly important in employment disputes where personal and professional reputations may be at stake.


Empowerment and Control:


Mediation empowers the parties involved to actively participate in the resolution of their dispute. The collaborative nature of mediation gives individuals more control over the outcome, fostering a sense of ownership and satisfaction with the agreed-upon solutions.


Conclusion:


Paul Strelitz's insights into the challenges posed by the overwhelming backlog of employment tribunal cases highlight the urgent need for alternative dispute resolution methods. Mediation emerges as a compelling solution, offering a more cost-effective, time-efficient, and relationship-preserving approach to resolving employment conflicts. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, embracing mediation could well be the key to a more streamlined and effective resolution of workplace disputes.

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