21st August 2015

Resolving workplace disputes

There are a number of ways that you, as an employer, can try to resolve internal disputes. Disputes can vary from misunderstandings and disagreements to formal grievances which can involve complaints of bullying or discrimination and sometimes lead to Tribunal claims.

Often disputes can be resolved by internal, informal discussion. Issues and concerns should be addressed at review meetings and appraisals to enable open communication which often prevents problems arising.

However, sometimes you will be faced with a situation where neither party will compromise and a resolution looks impossible.

One option may be to follow your grievance procedures and appoint someone in your organisation who is independent to decide on an outcome. This will allow for a thorough investigation into the issues raised so that the decision maker has the facts available to him or her. The outcome of a grievance depends on the facts and could include, for example, disciplinary procedures being commenced, relocation of relevant employee(s), or relevant training being given.

Another option, and a possible outcome following a grievance, is workplace mediation. This is where you appoint a workplace mediator to mediate between the two parties, with the aim of continuing the employment relationship and formulating an action plan to try and find a workable solution. This can be valuable to your business as it means you can retain staff, avoid recruitment costs and also avoid the possible costs of any employment litigation.

If neither of the above option succeeds, or if neither is appropriate in the circumstances, you can offer the relevant employee a settlement agreement. You should seek legal advice before discussing this with an employee as there is legislation regulating how this must be done. A settlement agreement is a legally binding agreement between you and an employee under which the employee agrees to settle their potential claims and in return you will normally agree to pay financial compensation. It achieves a clean break for both parties.

If you would like advice on any of the above options, please contact Linda Wilson, Head of Employment and Workplace Mediator, on 01730 268211 or at .