Benefits of mediation appeal to small business

More small businesses are turning to mediation, as a viable, more cost-effective and less confrontational alternative to litigation, according to Business Matters, the SME business magazine. The magazine quoted the CIPD Conflict Management survey, which found that in 2008 43 per cent of respondents had used mediation, a figure that had increased to 57 per cent three years later.

Why are businesses choosing to go the mediation route? The costs of litigation, the impact of the recession on working practices and a change in workplace culture are cited as three key reasons why there has been an increased in the use of mediation.

In particular, Business Matters reports a change in the way in which workplace disputes are now being handled. Employers, workers and their representatives are tending towards finding mutually agreeable solutions, which mediation can help bring about, rather than confrontation, which can lead to expensive tribunal hearings.

Simon Robinson, employment law barrister and accredited mediator at myBarrister, told Business Matters why mediation can offer a win-win for everyone, employers and employees alike.

Addressing the underlying conflict

Mediation can be a way of addressing a situation in a swift and focused way using an independent, trained third party to facilitate a discussion. Mediation enables the employer and worker to drill down to the underlying issues.

Cost benefits

Defending a one-day employment tribunal case claim can cost an employer anything from £3,800 to £8,500 – or more. By contrast, a one-day mediation can cost as little as £1,000 for a mediator, and can take place at the business premises of the parties in dispute, adding to convenience and saving time. Mediation is confidential, and so even if the parties don’t reach agreement on the day, nothing that happens in mediation can be used in any subsequent tribunal.

Finding common ground

Mediation provides an opportunity for the employer and employee to look at the issues together with support from a qualified and neutral third party.

Fresh eyes

A good mediator brings a fresh perspective, relevant experience and skills to help parties to challenge their positions and to reality-test solutions.”