YESS (Your Employment Settlement Service – www.yesslaw.org.uk) is the only legal advice service where lawyers advise employees and employers how to resolve employment disputes without litigation. After all, even if they lose their job most employees do not want to sue their employer, but they do want compensation. Employers also want to avoid litigation – to save time, money and reputation damage. Here are our top tips for negotiating.
• Grievances often do more harm than good; they cement rather than resolve disputes. Good communication and alternative dispute resolution should be the starting point.
• Avoid threats, overstatements and aggression when raising issues or defending allegations. State the facts; they should speak for themselves.
• It is not a sign of weakness to be the first to open ‘a discussion’ about how to resolve matters – including through settlement.
• A good way of starting a discussion is to talk about the options going forward, focussing on solutions.
• Try and put yourself in the shoes of the other side. Consider how any letter/email you write will resolve, not entrench, any disagreement or conflict. Always suggest an outcome or next step.
• Try and work out what the other side is trying to achieve, the likely response to action you take and how best to find a way of getting to ‘Yes’.
• The parties should be clear with each other about what they want. Think ‘outside the box’ about possible solutions, considering all options.
• Resolution is generally quicker, better and easier without legal threats, though lawyers can help with explaining legal rights and responsibilities.
• It is often easier to find a solution without lawyers doing the negotiating. Legal arguments more often lead to battle, not resolution.
• Constructive – but firm – dialogue generally works for all.
• It is easier to maintain a continuing working relationship with positive negotiations which may enable an employee to remain employed.
• Constructive dialogue is less stressful and time consuming – for employer, employee and their advisers. Life’s too short to litigate. It’s a ‘win-win’.
Camilla Palmer: email@example.com