Employment and arbitration


Employment arbitration is a procedure which allows employment disputes to be resolved in a quicker and more cost-effective manner, relative to litigation. The process is governed by the Arbitration Act 1996, and usually results in a binding decision called an ‘award’.

If you call us we will explain your options suggesting whether the use of a solicitor or arbitrator/mediator would be suitable for you and, if so, recommend a specialist in the employment field to assess your case.

How to approach employment disputes

When you work for an employer you can expect to be given a contract of employment. Contracts of employment can be:

  • Written
  • Oral
  • Implied

Generally the terms and conditions of your job will be laid out in writing. If your employer makes changes to your job that are not in your contract of employment, or breaks the terms of your contract, you could end up in dispute with your employer.

If after you have used the prescribed complaints or grievance procedure your employer should make available to you the dispute is still not resolved, contacting arbitrators in your area is your next step.

The role of arbitrators

Arbitrators who deal with contract disputes can offer independent third-party conciliation services that can in most cases avoid the use of employment tribunals.

Note that you and your employer must both agree to use contract arbitrators and decide in advance whether the decisions that the contract arbitrators come to about your case will be legally binding on all parties. It is important to think about this point carefully, as it can affect your ability to later use an employment tribunal to resolve your dispute.

We can put you in touch with contract arbitrators offering services in your area. Often, contract arbitrators will be linked to a law firm, as many workplace disputes have a legal component that also needs to be considered, as all parties work towards a solution to their dispute.

Using contract arbitrators can mean a swift and efficient resolution to your dispute, but if you are in any way unsure of your legal standing, always contact an employment solicitor as soon as possible.

The arbitration process

The decision in employment arbitration is reached by the arbitration tribunal (not to be confused with an employment tribunal, which is part of the litigation process). The tribunal is made up of arbitrators which are normally selected by the parties. The arbitrators are commonly legal professionals with a background in employment law, and are most often either lawyers or retired judges.

When compared to litigation, employment arbitration can be seen as a:

  • Less formal
  • Cheaper
  • More efficient way to resolve an employment dispute

It would be a mistake, however, to think that the decisions reached in arbitration have less legal reasoning behind them. In order to begin employment arbitration both parties sign an arbitration agreement which (amongst other things) stipulates which jurisdictional laws are to be considered by the tribunal. The arguments that are used in arbitration are therefore entirely legal in nature.

If you have an employment dispute and you would like to resolve it through arbitration, you may be able to do so even if there is no arbitration clause in your employment contract. The opposing party in your dispute may be more than happy to avoid the cost and complication of litigation in favour of arbitration.

You will, however, have to employ a specialist solicitor to look after you during the arbitration process, to ensure you achieve the best result possible.

For more advice on the importance of an arbitration contract, see our page on arbitration agreements.

Are you considering alternative dispute resolution as a means to reaching a solution in your employment dispute? Contact Law can recommend qualified arbitrators to assist you in an employment case, avoiding costly litigation fees. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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