Disputes at the Workplace

The number of employee complaints about their treatment at work is ever growing  but the central question now is how these cases are dealt with outside before the application to a tribunal or labour court.  The Alternative Disputes Resolution or ADR uses well known processes of resolving conflicts such as mediation and arbitration but they also help with complaints from individuals. The main types of ADRs are as follows:


Arbitration is when a third party hears the case presented by each party and makes a ruling on the outcome.


In this situation, the third party only acts as a facilitator by initiating communication between conflicting parties and encouraging the reconciliation between parties. The third party will listen to each side and works to find a solution which is acceptable to both parties. If the conciliator is able to find an acceptable outcome, then the case need not go to the tribunal court and will then be classified as settled.


During mediation an impartial third party helps two or more people who are in dispute and attempts to reach an agreement with them. The process of mediation focuses on the future and building relationships, as well as finding a solution.  During mediation, mediators can suggest possible solutions and he can also guide the parties to finding solutions.

Other ADR innovations

Aside from arbitration, mediation and conciliation, there are also other ADR innovations, which can be used to find solutions, such as employing a fact-finder to report to the parties so they can find solutions.  In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of ADR mechanisms for resolving disputes between individuals outside the existing DR institutions. ADR is voluntary in Ireland  and there is a perception among many of the country’s industrial relations community that the current resolution system is still bogged down by historical adversarial legacy.

In Ireland, ADR is provided to individuals and companies in three main ways. More formal dispute institutions have paid more attention to ADR and are offering more services lately. The use of private individuals has also grown. Most of these independent parties offer their mediation or arbitration services on a consultancy basis.  Some of the people who worked in this area are retirees from their former jobs and because of their strong problem-solving skills, they have more to offer and help out in dispute resolution once in a while.

Employers in Ireland are also introducing their own ADR mechanisms instead of hiring third parties to perform the job. They want to nip conflicts in the bud instead of letting them grow bigger that individuals will seek resolution outside the company. This is also to avoid external legal wrangling. Some of the few forms of ADR which employers have put in place in recent years are peer review, mediation, management review board, ombudsman and arbitration.

Some of the categories of individual workplace disputes dealt with by ADR are related to bullying, employee grievances, discrimination on various grounds and harassment. Aggrieved workers get access to ADR depending on the situation. Some may get access via their unions and their employers.

Employment Laws that Everyone Should Know

Although most companies today have HR companies to handle recruitment and employment issues, it is still common to find employers which make mistakes about employment laws. In our world today, we are surrounded by employment mistakes which are potentially costly, both to the business and the managers.

Employment contracts

According to the Employment Information Act 1994, the employer is obliged to provide the employee in a written statement  no later than two months after the commencement of his employment, his employment contract which should include the full names of both parties; the address of the employer; the title of the job and the nature of the work; the date of the commencement of contract under employment; terms and conditions relating to the hours of work including overtime, as well as paid leave and sick leave; details of pensions schemes; period of notice which the employee us required to give and entitled to receive.

Various difficulties and problems can be avoided if only employers took the time to get the employment contract correctly.


The Employment Equality Acts of 2004 and 1998 prohibits any form of discrimination on gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, race/colour/nationality, marital status, and marital status. It also prohibits discrimination in employment, classification of posts and training, as well as conditions of employment.


Holiday pay is earned against time worked. Employees, be it full time, part time, casual or temporary may earn holiday entitlements from the time since they started working. Each employee is entitled to 4 working weeks in a leave year provided that he works not less than 1,365 hours. Nine public holidays are also provided for and employees are entitled to a paid day off on a holiday; an extra days pay; or extra days of annual leave.

Dignity at work

All employers must take measures against bullying in the workplace. They must ensure that employees are not subjected to any kind of bullying from co-workers, bosses, suppliers and customers. There are also recent cases when this anti-bullying law extends to out of work activities.

Varying the employment terms and conditions

Altering the terms and conditions of the employment contract must be done with care because this can result to a breach of contract. There should be a negotiated agreement with both parties if a contract is to be changed. This is a complex issue and employers should be very careful when they traverse these waters.

Working time

Each employee should only have a maximum weekly working time of 48 hours and there should be a daily rest of consecutive 11 hours.  There are a number of rules which can be applied to average the maximum working week of 48 hours and there are also some exceptions to work which are seasonal in nature. It is also possible to enter into a collective agreement with the employer.

Unfair dismissal

For employees to be dismissed, there must be substantial grounds to justify the termination of an employment, and there must also be fair procedures that must be followed in effecting the termination.