New Zealand Mediators

By: New Zealand Mediators  06-Dec-2011
Keywords: Employment, Human Resources, Parties

Negotiation is the language of employment relations, whether you are involved in

In these, and many other employment relations settings, a manager needs to be a negotiator. And that is true whether working alone or alongside a professional human resources advisor. In employment relations, you need to understand negotiations.

And so too, of course, in a myriad of other functions - negotiation is not only the language of employment relations, it is one of the key languages of human interaction in the workplace and beyond. And mediation - the ability to assist disputing parties to resolve their differences - is, for many, an important second language and a critical skill to have in the toolbox.

At New Zealand Mediators, we have the track record, the expertise, and the teaching techniques to deliver effective tailored learning programmes in negotiation and mediation skills to members of your organization.

In its simplest form, mediation involves a third party endeavouring to assist two disputing parties to resolve their dispute in a manner that is acceptable to both of them.

Ideally, the third party will be:

  • a knowledgeable professional in dispute resolution.

  • neutral, having no vested interest in the nature of the resolution, other than helping it to happen.

  • trusted, so the parties can speak openly and frankly.

Disputes can be more complicated than one-on-one. There might be several or many parties and several or many issues, the dispute may be something that has been festering - above or below the surface - for a long time. It may stem from the issues themselves, or it may relate more directly to the processes the parties are using to deal with the issues (or not deal with them), or to the relationships between the people involved.

New Zealand Mediators can help with mediation of a wide variety of work-related disputes or processes:

  • collective bargaining

  • negotiations over an individual employment agreement

  • personal grievances

  • general disharmony or dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Mediation can be event-based to settle a specific matter, as for example where an employee files a personal grievance protesting a dismissal. Or it can be more facilitative and constructive, as for example where parties to a collective agreement are unhappy with their relationship and want to work towards more positive ways of dealing with one another.

Whatever the nature of the issues, where parties might benefit from assistance to resolve them, mediation is the ideal first option. And it is very often the only intervention that will be needed.

At New Zealand Mediators, we have the experience and expertise to provide parties with professional, independent, and private mediation assistance to jointly tackle whatever workplace issues are concerning them.

Sometimes, despite the best will of all parties, workplace disputes will be unable to be settled by direct negotiations between the parties, even with mediation or investigative assistance. In these cases employers and employees may benefit from having the dispute between them adjudicated. This is particularly appropriate where the rights of parties under an employment agreement or under law are at stake and are in dispute.

In adjudication, a neutral third party hears what the parties have to say about the dispute, and makes a final and binding decision about the matter.

Under New Zealand employment law, workers and employers have the right to have most types of disputes resolved by binding adjudication if they can't be settled by negotiation or mediation. Adjudication frequently takes place in the public jurisdiction of the Employment Relations Authority. Sometimes, though, disputing parties will agree to have their dispute heard and decided by a private adjudicator instead, preferring to tailor the process to their particular needs or to keep the outcome confidential to the parties.

At New Zealand Mediators, we have the professional expertise and adjudication experience to hear and determine - by joint authorization of the parties - the full range of employment disputes, including personal grievances, contract interpretation disputes, and wage and holiday claims.

There are times when employers, and perhaps employees, know that they have problems in the workplace, but they need help in understanding the nature and causes of the problems and in identifying options for resolving matters. The problems may appear as:

  • disharmony
  • disruptive behaviour or bullying,
  • apparent dishonesty within the workforce
  • insubordination and ill-discipline
  • absenteeism or other indicators of low morale,
  • a host of other symptoms.

At times like these, the organization may benefit from some independent investigation or inquiry by a neutral third party professional in whom both management and employees, and their respective advisors, can have confidence.

At New Zealand Mediators, we are experienced in conducting workplace fact-finding inquiries, and providing clients with clear and cogent reports analyzing the nature and source of problems and, where required, recommendations for action.

It is not our role to substitute for an employer's human resources staff or professional advisor or advocate. Rather, we conduct an unbiased investigation of the facts, file a factual report and, if requested, provide a menu of options for action for consideration by the client and their human resources advisors.

Keywords: Adjudication, Employment, Human Resources, Mediation, Parties

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