Employee Relations – Dispute Settlement

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Employee Relations HRM Individual Assignment Dispute Settlement Tale of ContentPage Introduction Nowadays, still some organizations fail to recognize and acknowledge the role of employee relations as a critical element of the strategic approach to Human Resources Management. However, the fact is that today’s turbulent business environment increases the demand on managers to properly manage employees’ relations. But before we proceed to elaborate further, we hereby define employee relations. “Employee relations, known as industrial relations, is concerned with the contractual, emotional, physical and practical relationship between employer and employee.” As the competitive standards rise and the individual expectations peak, managers are expected to respond positively to any change in the employees’ attitudes if they need to reach a required performance level. Having said this, we cannot deny on the other hand that the increasing complexity of employee relations can always lead to conflicts in employee-management relations, which will consequently result in disputes. This study has been made to define dispute in employee-management relations, to identify its settlements methods, to assess its nature, causes and impact on the organization through three research studies to be discussed in the literature. Dispute and Dispute Settlement Grievances and conflicts exist in every organization; they are in fact inevitable events of the employment relationship. From a Human Resources perspective, such conflicts are named disputes. Dispute by definition is a disagreement between the employer and its employee about the terms and conditions of employment, that would include working hours, wages, duration of the employment, benefits, attendance, leaves, etc… In order to manage conflicts and disputes and in an attempt to promote a sound and healthy employee relations, organizations tend to create a system to settle or to resolve disputes through a process called dispute settlement. Dispute settlement is a process for resolving disagreements between different parties; it seeks to achieve fairness for all participants. Therefore, in order to further understand this area of study, we will shed the light in this paper on three different articles and research studies that pertain to our topic “Disputes and Dispute Settlement”. Part I: A- Case Study I: International Origin, China based I- Title of the Study China's Labor Dispute Settlement: 
Forced Settlement, Worker Awareness of Rights, and Policy Suggestions II- Objectives of the Study The case study in hand aims at investigating labor dispute settlement system in China especially at times where the existing system fails to provide an adequate protection to the workers; at the same time, the study aims at finding ways for improving the current system in order to make it fair and effective for all engaged parties. Therefore, we can summarize the objective as follows:
  • The study tends to show how both economic globalization and traditional mediation custom have influenced the creation of China’s labor dispute settlement, and at the same time tries to find out what the practical problems of the existing dispute resolution system are and what are the suggested ways to fix the said problems.
III- Methodology Methodologically, a small fieldwork has been done to study China’s labor dispute settlement; for this reason, this study was based on observing and investigating labor dispute resolution in the local legal practice through quantitative and qualitative analysis and research with courts and arbitration committees in two cities of the province of Jiangsu. The research study included interviews and observations; it sampled diverse voices that incorporate employees, employers, judges, arbitrators, lawyers, and trade unions. V- Major Findings With respect to the research question, findings showed that globalization has helped China to further understand employee dispute settlements. And in order to integrate into the global market and to respond to its economic development, the Chinese government has contributed its efforts to channel employee disputes through both peaceful dispute settlements as well as through legal direction. As a result of China’s attempt to enter the global legal regime, it has structured dispute settlement process into three stages: Mediation, arbitration, litigation. Mediation is a mandatory process in the labor law dispute settlement structure. However, the excessive focus on this stage creates the problem of forced settlement where the government forces a peaceful settlement for disputes prior to the interference of the arbitrators and judges. In an attempt to balance between the social stability (deciding in employees’ favor) and protecting the local economy (deciding in employers’ favor), arbitrators and judges tend not to take any decision in the regard. This practice therefore, gives raise to the problem of violating the principles to respect the autonomy of the involved parties and at the same time compromises the interest of employees. In order to perfect the existing dispute settlement system, and to reduce the unfavorable effect of forced settlement, the study thus suggested eliminating the mediation practice and relying on arbitration or litigation. At the same time, the study recommended introducing ethical guidelines to prohibit forced settlement, empowering employees’ ability to resist forced settlement by offering them an adequate legal assistance, and increasing employees’ awareness of their rights that would allow them to resist any unfair treatment and any improper and undue influence from the governmental authorities. Part I: B- Learning Outcomes We conclude from the above research that economic globalization is having its impact on some countries in an indirect way and urging them to consider settling any dispute that may rise between the employer and its employees. This in return will help in stabilizing the society and in protecting the local economy. On the hand, we understand the importance of employees’ awareness for their rights, as this will equip them with the knowledge and courage to resist and face any unjust treatment. Finally, we recognize that governments should always work on improving their dispute settlement systems and expedite the process to afford the employees a meaningful remedy to their grievance. Part II: A- Case Study II:
  1. Title of the Study
Employment disputes: Solving them out of court
  1. Objectives of the Study
With the rise of employees’ claims and the expansion of the employees’ awareness for their legal rights, many companies resort to developing dispute settlement programs and procedures as an alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR) as an attempt to reach a win/win solution to workplace conflicts on one hand and to avoid the increasing costs of litigation the long judicial processes that are energy, money and time consuming on the other hand. For this reason, this study provides an overview of the ADR methods that could be used in this regard, among which we are interested to highlight the following:
  • Open-door policy
  • Peer review
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
IV- Major Findings Settling employee disputes is a complicated and challenging process. In the recent years, we could witness a dramatic increase in the employment claims due to the better opportunities that are granted to the employees to file claims against their employers from one hand, and due to the various types of legal resolutions that are available to them. Having said this, the study indicates that litigation is not the key to resolve workplace disputes, as this process will incur very high costs; therefore, companies are resorting to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to effectively settle disputes and to withstand legal scrutiny to achieve win/win solutions to disputes that will bring about satisfaction to both the employer and to the employee regardless of the outcome. The growing use of ADR indicates that companies should familiarize themselves with the involved processes where the management should design an internal grievance policy to minimize litigation and maintain healthy relations with employees in the workplace. In addition, applying ADR requires fairness, confidentiality, neutrality, and enforceability. Once the program is being finalized, the company can integrate its details in the personnel handbook, employment contract or other agreements; in addition, it can then evaluate and modify the processes periodically as needed to maintain the credibility of the program. As mentioned above, the study highlighted some of the most common ADR methods to resolve employment disputes.
  • Open-Door policy: this policy invites employees to discuss their complaints with their immediate supervisors, HR managers, or top management. In order for this process to be effective, the company must communicate the content of the program with the employees and train the managers to negotiate and mediate while solving the employees’ problems.
  • Peer Review: this is the second stage in the dispute settlement process. Failure to resolve a dispute through the open-door policy, companies resort to peer review process where both parties present their part of the argument in an informal and confidential way to a panel of employees or supervisors who are selected from a number of trained employees.
  • Mediation: is considered to be the most logical way to manage conflicts since it works on resolving workplace disputes without increasing tensions and pressures among the parties involved. A mediator, a trained- neutral third party, guides the disputing parties towards discovering innovative solutions to resolve the raising conflict. This process works well to all parties as it aims at maintaining good relationship between the employer and the employees; and usually both parties are content and satisfied with the said process as they can control the outcome and participate in reaching a solution.
  • Arbitration: Employees may bypass all the other ADR methods as dispute resolution options and choose arbitration process to resolve any existing conflict with their employer. Arbitration is considered a formal process that requires witnesses, and it provides a great degree of finality unlike the trial and appeals process. In order to maintain the employees’ legal rights and avoid its denial, the designed ADR program should empower the arbitrator and authorize him to award any type of resolution or relief that could be provided by the court of law.
Part II: B- Learning Outcomes In general, what we have learned from this study are the different methods that companies may use to resolve workplace disputes prior to resorting to litigation. Using ADR companies can therefore avoid administrative and judicial processes that are money, time, and energy consuming. These ADR methods are open door, peer review, mediation, and arbitration. Part III: A- Local Origin, UAE based
  1. Labor Dispute and Dispute Settlement
Due to the lack of research in this area of study in the United Arab Emirates, we shed the light on dispute settlement topic and try to understand its application in the country through UAE labor law as stated in the HR zone.
  1. Major Findings and Understanding
  1. Whenever a dispute rises between the employee and the employer, how can either party proceeds with a case?
In case of disputes between the employer and its employees, the first step would be submitting a written application summarizing the facts to the complaints department at the Ministry of Labor related to the emirate in which the employer’s organization is located. Then, the employer or the employee will be called to state their case before the labor office that in turn must come back with a recommendation within two weeks period of time. In case the party fails to settle the dispute, the matter will then be transferred to court to be litigated in a normal and standard manner.
  1. Should the application to the labor office and the court be made within a specified time limit?
Any complaint filed by either party, whether the employer or the employee, it must be submitted to the labor office at the Ministry of labor within one year from the date in which the entitlement becomes due. Failure to do so, the case will be time bared.
  1. How effective are foreign employment contracts in the UAE?
Foreign contracts are enforceable and valid as long as they are executed in the country. Nevertheless, if a dispute rises between the employer and the employee, and there exists an additional local contract; the provisions in the contract that are more favorable to the employee will be taken with.
  1. Is the employer or the employee liable to pay court fees?
Employees are excused from paying court fees even in case an appeal is filed at the court. Yet, if the dispute fails to be settled at the Ministry, the employer who chooses to proceed with court action is entitled of paying court fees. Part III: B- Learning Outcomes
  • The United Arab Emirates, being fully conscious of the fact that legislation is crucial for the development of its
community, has improved legislation to keep pace with the country’s political, social and economic development.
It has therefore succeeded in achieving a great progress in spreading the values and principles of fairness throughout the country. Further, from the above information, we learned how disputes between employees and employers are resolved in the UAE from a legal perspective. We had an understanding of the dispute settlement process, the time frame, foreign employment contracts, and liability for the fees payable.
  • Conclusion
  • From the above research studies, we could notice that disputes are settled differently in different countries. Processes and systems vary with the sole interest of reaching an agreement and resolving any dispute that may occur between employers and employees in a speedy manner. Nevertheless, we as future HR professionals should keep in mind the importance of maintaining good employee relations and avoiding disputes as this will reflect positively on the business as it reduces workplace conflicts, lift up employees’ morale and increase the overall performance and productivity. But how can we achieve this task that seems to be inevitable especially when dealing with people; below we suggest some points to be practiced by the manger or supervisor that can help maintain good employee relations in addition to implementing policies regarding performance, discipline, conduct, etc..
  • Handle complaints and grievances and always provide the best solutions.
  • Inform the employees about their rights and let be knowledgeable of their responsibilities and of the company’s policies and procedures.
  • Provide support whenever it is needed.
  • Continually assess the need for training and provide it as it is needed.
  • Reward and praise the good job
References Wilburn, K. O. (1998). Employment disputes: Solving them out of court.Management Review,87(3), 17-21. Retrieved from http://adezproxy.adu.ac.ae/docview/206692029?accountid=26149 Chen, Y. (2010).China's labor dispute settlement: Forced settlement, worker awareness of rights, and policy suggestions.(Order No. 3410763, Arizona State University).ProQuest Dissertations and Theses,, 198. Retrieved from http://adezproxy.adu.ac.ae/docview/375550497?accountid=26149. (375550497). McLaurin, J. R. (2008). LABOR LAW IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: A REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS.Allied Academies International Conference.Academy of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues.Proceedings,12(2), 15-19. Retrieved from http://adezproxy.adu.ac.ae/docview/192409231?accountid=26149 http://www.uaehrzone.com/job-hunting-support/uae-labour-law/#dispute_settlement http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/dispute-resolution.html http://www.hrzone.com/hr-glossary/employee-relations-definition 1
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