Do it right: employment disputes

Avoid them. Steer clear of nasty disputes by treating your staff fairly and consistently and establishing clear policies on pay and disciplinary and grievance procedures. Hardly rocket science.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Nip it in the bud. If an employee has a complaint, listen. A supportive arm around the shoulder is better than fingers around the throat later.

Find a referee. If both parties are at loggerheads, an independent mediator can highlight ways for them to reach a voluntary agreement without any blood-spilling. They're cheaper and quicker than a tribunal.

Go to arbitration. In cases of unfair dismissal, an independent arbitrator offers a speedy, informal but legally binding alternative.

Pay-off time. Sometimes it's better to offer an employee compensation for not bringing - or withdrawing - a tribunal claim. A compromise agreement is legally binding, so stump up a small sum, and save time and bad publicity.

Lean on a lawyer. Sometimes, there's just no other way. If the town ain't big enough for the both of you, and neither of you is willing to blink first, it'll come down to a gunfight at the employment tribunal corral. Get the best legal sharpshooters you can.

Learn from it. Your fingers have been burnt, your wallet is a bit lighter, but you're wiser, too. Review work practices that led to the dispute, make the necessary changes, and get back in the saddle. It's time to move on.

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