25 May, 2024

Edgar Paltzer: Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Workplace

Attorney-at-law Edgar Paltzer operates in Switzerland, providing legal advice on wealth structuring services. This article will focus on dispute resolution, identifying the various different routes for resolving workplace disputes.

Conflict in the workplace is natural and in some instances can actually be constructive. Healthy conflict creates opportunities for candid discussions, encouraging co-workers to challenge themselves and their ways of thinking – sparking creativity and potentially a newfound value and respect of others. Nevertheless, in some instances conflict can be incredibly damaging, triggering anger, resentment and hostility among employees and potentially triggering a PR disaster.

Workplace disputes can be incredibly disruptive and costly for businesses, particularly if they result in litigation. It is often in both parties’ interests to avoid a legal dispute, except as a last resort.

Fortunately, there are a variety of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods available. Choosing the right one at the right moment presents employers with scope to keep both costs and operational disruption to a minimum.

ADR is a term used to describe a range of voluntary processes, all of which are pursued with the ultimate goal of resolving a dispute without issuing employment tribunal or court proceedings. ADR is only possible if all parties agree to participate. They must also agree on which ADR type to use.

ADR may involve a somewhat informal process that amounts to little more than a discussion between the parties with the aim of achieving a mutually acceptable outcome. At the other end of the spectrum, an ADR process may be almost as formal as court proceedings but with the benefit of negotiations taking place in private, avoiding bad press for all parties. The most appropriate ADR format will depend on the dispute in question.

Different types of ADR format include:

  • Mediation, a flexible form of ADR that can be used in a variety of different scenarios
  • Conciliation, relying on a third-party conciliator who usually communicates with each party on an individual basis, serving as a conduit between them, conveying settlement proposals etc.
  • Arbitration, the most formal form of ADR that is best suited to disputes with significant financial implications, with each party appointing their own legal representation

Where employers become aware of disquiet among workers, it is crucial that these issues are addressed. Failure to take action can culminate in unhealthy working environments that not only injure staff morale but could also escalate into major conflagration.


Claire James

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