As an employer, disputes are to be expected not only from your employees but also from other entities that you engage with. These conflicts are not only stressful but also time consuming and expensive. Understanding the types of disputes that employers can be faced with and taking the appropriate steps to prevent them is an effective and precautionary form of dispute resolution.
With staff members and employees there are a plethora of ways in which a dispute may arise. Many stem from individual personal grievances that are directed at a policy matter or an issue with a more senior member of staff. Equally, disputes can also often occur between two or more employees.
The best way to approach dispute resolution is to tackle the issue as early as possible. Being proactive and looking out for indicators could save you time and money.
Below is a list of possible issues:
- A poor working environment can make employees unhappy and may lead to a dispute over an injury.
- Untrained managers can cause problems with employees. Being unaware of the correct procedure can lead to the mistreatment of staff.
- Unfair treatment could lead to a disputes. Employees are likely to express their dissatisfaction if they feel as though they have not received the same treatment as their colleagues.
- If a person does not have a clear job role, they may feel less valued.
- If there is poor communication between the employee and their manager.
- An employee may be being bullied or harassed by another member of staff.
- If an employee has addressed an issue with the employer but this has not been followed up or resolved.
- An increased workload on an employee.
Monitoring employees and managers and looking out for any of these issues should ensure that disputes are a rare occurrence within your business.
Preemptive Dispute Resolution
There are certain steps that employers can take to ensure that grievances and disagreements to not develop into formal disputes. We have included five below:
- Lead by example. Ensure you act in a way that you would expect all of your employees to act.
- Ensure that all employees and managers are sufficiently trained to be able to spot situations that could cause a dispute and ensure they can effectively deal with any difficult or upsetting conversations with other employees.
- Recognise the importance of feelings and ensure all employees are encouraged to express their opinions openly. Making time to listen to the worries of your employees could make all the difference.
- Establish discipline and grievance policies and confirm that the employees are aware of them. Also, ensure that all employees have a form of mediation incorporated into their contracts.
- If there is a dispute then you may be required to have a conversation with an employee that may be difficult or upsetting. Ensure the conversation is one-to-one, or alternatively, if the employee asks with another person, whichever way will make the employee feel the most comfortable. Talk to them in a calm manner and listen to everything they say. This will not only put the employee at ease, but you will also be able to use the information throughout the dispute resolution process.
Disputes in the workplace are not only limited to employees. Sometimes disputes can be more commercial in nature and require a different approach. Commercial disputes tend to be between the business and a client or with other organisations that you have transactions or dealings with.
Dispute resolution in these matters can be a little more difficult, so using mediation or arbitration can prove to be useful . These methods tend to be more of an informal way of resolving a dispute and are mainly comprised of negotiations. They do not require either parties to the dispute to attend a court hearing to resolve the matter.
However, when mediation or arbitration are not viable options in dispute resolution, the only option would be to take the matter to court and enlist a litigation solicitor help with the proceedings of the case.
There are many ways that a dispute may arise in commercial transactions or dealings.
We have listed have listed examples of common commercial disputes below:
- Building Disputes - Building disputes often involve incorrect payments or an unsatisfactory service.
- Corporate or Partnership Disputes - These can arise out of acquisitions, mergers and joint ventures.
- Debt Recovery - This is when you are owed money from either a customer, client or from a company.
- Landlord and Tenant Disputes - These often stem from unpaid rent, property disrepair or a breach of contract.
- Customer or Supplier Disputes - Incorrect or missing payments, late delivery and bad service can all lead to conflict with customers or suppliers.
- Warranty Disputes - These relate to the performance or quality of a product or service, the sale of a product or the sale of a business.
With all disputes within a workplace, it is your responsibility to act appropriately as an employer and a business owner. This means finding the dispute resolution technique that works best for your circumstances.
ACAS is a website that offers advice for employees and employers in all dispute matters along with training and a number of other resources. Be sure to make the most of what is available to you.
If you were unable to avoid a dispute by taking precautionary measures then instructing an expert is the best cause of action for protecting your business and ensuring a professional and efficient dispute resolution process.