23 Jan 2012 09:49 AM
Regional mediation pilot scheme launched
News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 23 January 2012
The latest steps in reforms to the employment tribunal system were unveiled by Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey today with the announcement of a pilot scheme for two regional mediation networks for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Cambridge and Manchester will be the first regional mediation networks where the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will fund mediation training for employees from a group of 24 SMEs in each of the pilot areas later this year. A network of trained mediators will be available to provide mediation to other organisations in their respective network. It is anticipated that this will help resolve workplace disputes, at the earliest possible opportunity, before they reach the employment tribunal stage.
Edward Davey said:
“We have always said that employment tribunals should be a last resort for resolving workplace disputes. That is why last year we announced a series of measures which offer alternatives when dealing with such problems.
“Mediation offers an informal method of dispute resolution and can be used at the point when problems first arise in the workplace. For both employers and employees it can mean avoiding the need for formal discipline and grievance procedures. And it can also mean avoiding the time-consuming, complex and often stressful employment tribunal process.
“We want to help employers and employees to help themselves. In particular our consultations showed SMEs are often not aware of the benefits that mediation can bring for both parties. This pilot will directly target this group, help to raise awareness of the benefits and reduce the burden on the tribunal system.”
The intention to pilot two regional mediation networks was published in the Government response to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation. The pilots will run for 12 months and, if successful, the Government will consider introducing them into other areas of England, Scotland and Wales.
An open tender to deliver the mediation training for prospective candidates has been published today and can be found on the ‘Contracts Finder’ website.
Notes to editors:
1. The Government response to the ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation can be found at http://www.bis.gov.uk/Consultations/resolving-workplace-disputes . The ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation was launched on the 27 January and closed on 20 April 2012.
2. The open tender can be found at http://www.contractsfinder.co.uk/
3. Based on Local Enterprise Partnership and Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, BIS has determined that both Manchester and Cambridge have a suitable concentration of SMEs and comparable levels of economic activity against their pre-defined control regions, to support the pilot networks.
4. Responses to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation suggested that the use of workplace mediation is growing, but at a slow pace. A significant proportion of respondents said they don’t use, rarely use or have never experienced mediation.
5. The 24 businesses in each region will be identified and selected later in 2012, once the mediation training contract has been awarded.
6. There were 218,000 tribunal claims in 2010-11, a rise of 44% since 2008-09, with each business spending nearly £4,000 per claim on average defending itself. There is an additional average cost of a £1,900 to the taxpayer per claim.
7. The Government is striving to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.
8. We are helping SMEs to access the finance they need by extending the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme to viable small firms through to 2014, and launching a new Business Angel Co-Investment fund, which will receive equal or better match funding from partner business angel investors to establish an overall fund size of over £100million.
9. Business owners need to access business information quickly and easily, and a radically improved www.businesslink.gov.uk website is providing online business help and information, tailored for each user. On the advice side, we have launched a new national mentoring network – www.mentorsme.co.uk – which provides a single, online portal to allow those with a business, or thinking of starting a business, to get useful, practical advice from people who have done it and succeeded before.
10. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom for more information.
BIS Press Office
Phone: 020 7215 5947