Mediation for employment issues in New Zealand

Mediation for employment issues in New Zealand

Mediation can be a daunting process if you’ve never been, this blog gives you insight into how it works.

Quick tips

What you should know about mediation:

  1. It has a structure with rules
  2. It is impartial
  3. It’s confidential to the parties
  4. You won’t be forced into anything
  5. It is a free service via MBIE

What happens at mediation

When you arrive at mediation at MBIE you’ll be asked to sign in and will be shown your own private room. 

You’ll have time with the mediator before the session starts and they’ll explain how it all works. 

When mediation starts you’ll be in the same room as the employee to listen to their version of events. You’ll then have an opportunity to speak and respond to the employee. It’s important that you do not interrupt each other, even if you don’t agree with them. 

You can take a break at any time and you’ll have your own space for that. Once you and the other party have spoken and responded as needed the mediator will bounce between the rooms to help negotiate a resolution. This often means your time in the same room is limited. 

Typically the employee gets to speak first, as the applicant to the mediation. 

It’s impartial 

The role of the mediator is to be impartial. They’re not there to make a decision for you or to tell you who is right or wrong. 

A good mediator will guide the process so you’re able to reach an agreement on how to resolve the problem. They will also give you information about what happens if you don’t settle and what the possible ramifications might be. 

It’s confidential

Mediation is confidential to the parties who attend. Whilst it is “free from prejudice”, meaning you can say what you like without it being held against you, you must take a realistic approach if you’re returning to the workplace together. 

If one of the parties breaches confidentiality you have options to report this breach to ensure the appropriate consequences are in place. 

Agreeing to resolve the problem

There is great motivation to settle at mediation. However, the mediator will not force you into agreeing. In some situations, it might not make business sense to settle and at other times it will. 

Once you agree on a resolution the mediator will draft a record of settlement for both parties to sign. Once the mediator signs this agreement the terms become full final and binding.

If the terms are breached the other party can seek reinforcement by notifying their representative who will help you.

Costs to attend via MBIE

MBIE do not charge you for attending mediation, so it’s free in that regard. 

Of course, like anything (no such thing as a free lunch right?) there will be a cost. You’ll have to set aside time to prepare, your time to attend and it can be a stressful process – especially if you go alone! Not to mention possible costs to the other party to resolve the problem. 

Free workbook

In preparing for mediation think ahead about what the other party may ask to resolve their concerns.

  • Can you agree to this?
  • Have they contributed to the problem?
  • Are you at risk of not meeting minimum entitlements?
  • Are you in the wrong?
  • Think about what you can be flexible on and what, if anything, you cannot.

Be prepared for the potential costs at mediation versus costs if it doesn’t settle. 

Contact me for the latest mediation workbook for free.