The workplace can be a tense setting where employers and employees take positions that they believe is best for them.
Whether there is a concern over overtime payments, sick leave entitlements, health and safety issues in the surrounding environment or claims of discrimination, going through a fair work mediation process will often prove fruitful for those participants.
Here we will take stock of what is officially involved with fair work mediation to give employers and employees a chance to understand the exercise in greater detail.
Bringing All Parties to the Table
Once a fair work mediation ombudsman has been introduced to a case, then employers and employees are encouraged to actively take part in the discussions. A dispute will often involve a financial matter over the terms of a contract, but can also speak to working conditions, reporting, benefits and other issues that are outside of those financial parameters. Ensuring that they are available and present in good faith is part of their role, identifying what the issues are and letting the procedures carry out until a resolution is found.
Managing the Conversation
A neutral mediator will work to oversee the practice of fair work mediation and manage the conversation. Rather than allowing talks to divulge off subject where personal attacks or office politics are in play, they will keep the focus on the targets and objectives of both stakeholders to see what common ground can be found. Even if coffee breaks and consultations are necessary to keep the focus on the end outcome, then that will be a tactic that is utilised. These practitioners will be able to be consulted privately in some circumstances, but their position is to remain as neutral arbiters to facilitate healthy discussions.
Communicating Laws to Stakeholders
Employers and employees alike will find that working through fair work mediation processes helps to establish what laws and guidelines are applicable to their circumstances. From the terms of the contract to fair working conditions that are legislated by the federal government, employees will be made aware of whether or not their claims are legitimate and whether or not the employer is right or wrong to pushback against the focus of the dispute. Updates are being made to certain regulations in the workplace and if these policies have not been communicated to a business, that fact could adversely impact the outcome of the dispute.
Whereas a court procedure can allocate upwards of weeks and months as employer and employee dispute a claim, operating through fair work mediation can help parties reach a result within 2 hours. This is in the most ideal of circumstances, but an ombudsman is in a position to hear the claims either in person or over a conference call, allow all parties to voice their thoughts on the subject, assess the claims, provide a number of solutions and draft an agreement on that very same day. In certain circumstances there can be delays given the availability of all parties and their willingness to accept an outcome, but this exercise underlines how it can be expedited when weighed against the alternative solutions.
Reaching One of Three Potential Outcomes
There are three potential end results that are in play for participants who go through fair work mediation practices: reaching an informal agreement, a formal agreement or reaching no agreement whatsoever. The former will see the employer and employee verbally agree to terms and ensure that they can discuss the matter further inside the domains of the business. Then there is the formal provision that will see a Terms of Settlement reached. This will help to signify the terms and conditions that were outlined before becoming a legally binding document. The worst case scenario will see no such agreement found, leaving all parties to either head to court.