Disputes at work: how to make mediation work for your organisation

Written by
John Scott

26 May 2016

26 May 2016 • by John Scott

Mediation is increasingly used in a number of ways to resolve employment disputes: early conciliation by ACAS when a claim has been lodged with the Employment Tribunal (ET); judicial mediation as part of the ET process; and mediation run by accredited mediators.

Mediation is attractive for a number of reasons...

  • It is confidential and discreet.
  • Even if mediation is not successful, discussions often lead to a resolution at a later date, again without further litigation. The success rate for mediation is claimed to be as high as 70-80%.
  • It can identify solutions which are not evident during the early stages of a dispute or subsequent litigation e.g. the provision of a reference or an apology. To some extent, the process deals more effectively with the emotional aspects of a dispute, providing a space where they can be expressed and heard.
  • Litigation is not only time consuming and costly, it is also distracting and worrying over many months for all involved.  The cost to the individual is clear, but it is costly in different ways for leadership teams.


Mediation is now very much a part of the dispute resolution procedures available to employers and employees alike. It is however typically used when the dispute is in full flight when costs have been incurred, reputations are at risk and positions have hardened. There is significant scope to intervene at an earlier stage when the dispute could be more easily resolved.

In this first video, we look at how disputes happen in the workplace and their common features, in part to understand why they escalate quite so quickly and spin out of the control of those involved.  


In upcoming videos, we consider why it is that traditional dispute resolution procedures, grievances and appeals, no longer work, and serve instead to stoke litigation.

We then consider how intervention using mediation techniques will help to resolve disputes at an early stage, before they spin out of control.