The Department of Labour provides mediation services to help people resolve their employment relations problems quickly and personal grievances effectively.
The Department of Labour’s first priority is to prevent employment relationship problems occurring in the first place by providing information to help employers and employees develop and maintain productive employment relationships. If there are problems that employers and employees are unable to resolve themselves, they can approach the Mediation Service to seek assistance. Assistance can be provided in a range of ways from provision of information, facilitation, educational events or programmes, or mediation.
The Department of Labour does not provide advocacy, representation or specific legal advise. To get help from a professional employment representative click here.
Mediation services are available to both employers and employees to help them identify problems and seek appropriate courses of action to resolve them.
What is the process of mediation?
Mediation is a process in which the participants, with the assistance of a mediator, systematically isolate disputed issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives and reach agreements that will accommodate their needs. This process may occur by telephone or by email or in the workplace or in Mediation Service rooms.
Similar to negotiating the purchase of your first home a professional employment representative can provide specific legal advice and expertise to achieve the best outcome for you. Click here to contact a professional employment representative.
If an employer or employee has a problem which they would like resolved at short notice and the other party agrees, a mediator can offer a fast track mediation option. This option allows a short opportunity to attempt resolution (actual time frame to be determined by the mediator). If the problem isn't resolved within the time allocated, the mediator will make a final and binding decision. Agreement to this fast track process is recorded in writing at the beginning.
If the parties reach agreement (whether with the help of a mediator or not), they can ask a mediator to sign the agreement. The mediator will explain to the parties that, once signed, the agreement becomes final and binding and cannot be challenged. Such an agreement is enforceable in the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court, and there are penalties for breaching it.
What happens if the parties cannot agree?
If the employer and employee cannot reach agreement in mediation, they can agree (by giving written authority) to the mediator making a final and binding decision. The mediator will explain to the parties that once he or she makes a decision, that decision is enforceable and cannot be challenged. There are penalties for breaching such decisions. A party cannot later seek another determination in the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court.
If either or both of the parties do not want the mediator to make a decision, the problem may be taken to the Employment Relations Authority which will investigate and make a determination for the parties.
Alternative dispute resolution procedures
Employers and employees can choose to use a private mediator or arbitrator to assist them in resolving any problems. They should, however, be aware that any settlement or decision would have no status under the Employment Relations Act. If, however, they want such a settlement or decision to be final and binding, they need to have it signed by a Mediation Service mediator (see “Reaching agreement” above).