Employers are worried about using Mediation and Settlement Agreements. The introduction of employment tribunal (ET) fees has changed the balance of power between employers and claimants and has had a significant impact on employees’ willingness to bring claims.
Employers spend an average of 19 days of management time dealing with individual ET cases. Larger organisations with more than 250 employees spend 20 days dealing with individual ET cases, while organisations with fewer employees spend around 12 days. CIPD (2015)
Recent legislation has so far had only a limited impact on employers’ approaches to managing conflict. However, there is now growing support of alternative dispute resolution. Instead of more formal discipline and grievance processes, employers are beginning to use informal methods when attempting to dismiss staff.
There is an increased level of interest by employers in using mediation and settlement agreements as a means of terminating employment. The majority (56%) of employers asked in a recent CIPD survey that they feel settlement agreements are a useful mechanism for removing an underperforming employee without the need to go through an unnecessary and time-consuming performance management process.
Employers are making increased use of mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, to resolve workplace issues, but many HR managers lack confidence in developing informal approaches to managing conflict and continue to be nervous about departing from grievance procedures.
Recent changes in employment regulation and tribunal procedures have included:
- introduction of employment tribunal fees (July 2013)
- early conciliation by Acas (April 2014), building on experience of pre-claim conciliation
- settlement agreements and extended ‘without prejudice’ protection for employers seeking to terminate employment (July 2013)
- new Employment Tribunal Procedural Rules (July 2013).
Employers generally say they see using mediation and settlement agreements as a default option, to be used only after other options have been exhausted. However, there has been a huge increase in settlement agreements, partly as a result of the 12-month cap on unfair dismissal awards.
As with Metis HR Ltd, in some cases settlement agreements will be the outcome of a workplace mediation first and the extension of ‘without prejudice’ protection has raised awareness of settlement agreements.
A recent testimonial from a manufacturing firm who used our Mediation services to reach a settle agreement with a ‘difficult’ employee is as follows: ‘’It seems that a disciplinary route isn’t always the best option. We felt that in our situation mediation helped us to come to an agreement with an unhappy, disruptive employee with no risk of any come backs once the agreement had been signed. The fees were reasonable and the service as always was very good. If we had chosen to follow a disciplinary route it most likely would have been more costly with no guarantee that it would end there.’’
If you want to find out more about using mediation and settlement agreements with any conflict in your workplace, give us a call – 01706 565332
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.