“All conflict is but different perspectives illuminating the same truth.”- Ghandi
Nearly ten years ago lawyer Karen Radich (then Spackman), co-authored Employment Mediation – A Guide to Mediating Employment Disputes. At that time, Karen had been an employment lawyer for almost a decade and had recently gained a Master’s degree majoring in Dispute Resolution. Finding a vacuum in the specialist area she found fascinating, she sought to provide a reputable reference source as well as a practical guide to the process of employment mediation in New Zealand.
Employment Mediation into its 2nd Edition
A decade on, and now a specialist barrister, Karen still finds the field of employment law to be fertile ground for study. The second edition of Employment Mediation, co-authored with Peter Franks, a mediator with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, has just been released.
Employment law more generally, and employment mediation specifically, is an area, says Karen, where the law is dynamic – constantly changing through either legislative developments or the result of case law.
Mediation or dispute resolution she says is a powerful process. Around 80% of employment grievance cases settle with mediation assistance, with the mediation meetings and the guidance of specialist mediators often proving that what appears as an immovable or entrenched position is not necessarily so.
Most people just want the fair hearing the mediation process offers
Many people, says Karen, are not actually looking for vengeance or even significant financial award as a result of their decision to explore the options that formal grievance procedures may bring. Nor do they necessarily want to go through the court system. What they mostly want, she says, often without them even realising this, is to be given the opportunity to put their case, and to be heard fairly and feel that they have been listened to by the other party. The process of mediation allows this to happen, with the expert input and assistance of a specialist mediator. It also allows the parties to design their own outcomes, with few limits on what can be agreed as a settlement in a mediation process.
Being an employment lawyer and assisting clients in the mediation process brings her a great deal of personal satisfaction. As Karen says, without the opportunity to participate in the mediation process, many grievances would go on to be determined by more formal processes, which do not necessarily allow the participants to put their past in the past and move on.
About the authors
Karen talking about Peter
Talking of co-author Peter Franks, Karen says it was a privilege to work alongside someone whose enthusiasm for the topic is as strong now, as it was when he first began working in the area many years ago. As a former trade unionist and senior official of the Council of Trade Unions, Peter’s expertise and perspective provided balance and depth. As co-editor and author of a history of the Federation of Labour and a history of the printers’ union, the wealth of material he brought to the project, including an in-depth study of costs awards in the past two years, she says, was invaluable.
Like Karen, Peter is an accredited member of the LEADR Panel of Mediators and is a coach for its five day mediation course.
Peter talking about Karen
Peter says he was delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the book and to work in partnership with Karen who is widely recognised as one of NZ’s leading employment lawyers and someone who has a deep understanding of the mediation process. He says the book draws on Karen’s vast experience in dealing with difficult employment issues and in training new practitioners. Because it is based on practical experience as well as sound theory, the book has much to offer new lawyers and representatives entering the employment field.
About the launch
Employment Mediation 2nd Edition was formally launched on 11 July 2013 at Clifton Chambers in Wellington, which is Karen’s barristers’ chambers. The event was attended by over 50 people, including Chief Judge Colgan of the Employment Court, Judge Ford of the court, members of the Employment Relations Authority, mediators, union officials, academics, managers from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, local HR practitioners and employment lawyers.
Find out more
The book’s essential details
Employment Mediation 2nd Edition, published by Thomson Reuters (formerly Brookers), has been substantially updated and includes four new sections covering MBIE mediation services, early assistance mediation, the costs in employment cases and first steps in the Employment Relations Authority.
It is intended as a user-friendly guide to mediating employment disputes. It explains the process from start to finish, outlines key preparation steps, as well as covering practical points such as negotiation strategies and preparing settlement agreements. Legal issues such as “full and final settlement”, the enforcement process and confidentiality are addressed, and there are discrete chapters on mediation during collective bargaining and the history of mediation in New Zealand. Of particular interest to lawyers, one chapter is devoted to the costs of proceeding in the Employment Relations Authority, including a study of 279 costs awards made by the Authority in the past 2 years and the financial outcomes for parties when those costs are measured against awards made.
Karen Radich – barrister, Clifton Chambers, Wellington
Peter Franks – mediator, MBIE, Wellington