Guideline for
employment problems

This treatment guideline provides recommendations on interventions that, according to international literature, have proven to work for people. In particular, for people who want to reach good outcomes for employment conflicts.

Guidelines are developed according to the Guideline Method. Find out more by clicking on the button below.

13 recommendations

Directed to front-line employment justice practitioners

Aimed at reaching good outcomes for people dealing with conflicts on the workfloor

Designed to empower users

Recommendations according to The Treatment Guideline method

This treatment guideline shows a set of recommended interventions that are actionable. They can be applied in employment disputes, such as non-payment of wages. We have drawn interventions that are beneficial for the wellbeing of disputing parties from international literature in the field of justice. 

The recommendations on this page will be reviewed by external experts. Similar to recommendations in the medical sector, they will be updated accordingly.

HiiL’s prof. dr. Maurits Barendrecht, Tim Verheij, Isabella Banks and Manasi Nikam have developed the methodology for different justice issues.

More research where interventions are systematically compared and evaluated is needed. Combining research with experiences from justice practitioners make more solid recommendations, which are tailored to the local context.

To Whom Is This Guideline Addressed?

The treatment guideline on this page is developed for a broad range of employment justice practitioners and other helpers involved. Recommendations are designed to be actionable and applicable to the different roles that these practitioners and helpers take.

  • Providing information and advice to set norms or contain the dispute are important first steps of a resolution process. Often, family members and friends take this role.
  • Mediators and human resources staff are there to have parties convene and communicate with each other. They support both parties at the same time.
  • In resolving the dispute, lawyers, paralegals and judges often play a role as well. Solutions are being shaped and where needed decisions are made. 
  • After agreements are concluded, they might need improvement over time. People’s needs change. Practitioners feel the need to keep overview and ensure that people got the outcomes they needed.
  • Throughout the entire process, from preventing, communicating to resolving and aftercare, practitioners need recommendations to support them in their work.

Recommendations for people to reach fair solutions

13 recommendations have been developed so far. They can be applied by justice practitioners or HR professionals who deal with employment problems to give people fair and effective solutions. Keep in mind that many parties to employment disputes help themselves, and can benefit from these recommendations as well.

The recommendations are linked to 8 building blocks, categories of interventions that can prevent or resolve employment problems.

Combining research and shared practices help people reach fair solutions

Building blocks

These are the building blocks for family justice issues. Find out more about the building blocks here.

Recommendations

Together, these recommendations form a guideline. Find out more about the guideline method here.

Preventing (1)
Disputes that emerge at the workplace can result from vague top-down guidelines from managers, uncooperative colleagues, diverging interests of team members, lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities, misunderstanding or communication gap among colleagues and so on. This can be prevented.
Preventing (1)
A combination of the two leadership styles, transactional and transformational, is most conducive to the well-being of employees and the organisation. The type of work environment can justify the usage of one style to a greater extent than the other, but one should not be used to the complete exclusion of the other.
Preventing (2)
To make employment contracts enforceable and clear, lawyers use several legal expressions that people are not familiar with. As a result, people often fail to understand these legal documents, which causes issues.
Preventing (2)
User-centred contracts contain visual elements as well as those that are drafted using plain, simple language. Visualisation in contracts ‘refers to adding flowcharts, icons, timelines, images, matrices to highlight, clarify and explain the content’. Plain language entails breaking down long sentences into shorter sentences, replacing archaic and Latin words with words that are understood by the public and other such measures.
Preventing (3)
Parties can prevent employment problems by recording rights and agreements so that they can be verified. This means agreeing upfront on the nature, duration, and value of the work that an employee will perform.
Preventing (3)
Employers and employees can use a single employment contract, which can support them in agreeing on a fair employment relationship.
Preventing (4)
Disputes that arise at the workplace are often related to tasks or activities that are related to projects. Team members have to work together to contain the disputes.
Preventing (4)
Parties to a dispute should face conflicts directly and try to find new and creative solutions to the problems by focusing on their own needs as well as on those of others. People using an collaborative style of solving problems have concerns for themselves and for others.
Preventing (5)
A basic sense of security and trust that past incidents of harm will be prevented is needed in the workplace.


Preventing (5)
Employers should treat employees with dignity and provide them with clear information about decisions that affect them.

Employees may hold supervisors responsible for outcomes, such as respect and recognition for their work.
Preventing (6)
A basic sense of security and trust in the workplace can prevent escalation of employment disputes.


Preventing (6)
Employers commit to reducing work-related stress and promoting psychological health among their employees. Communication and reporting systems are established so that stressful work conditions can become known.
Mapping Facts
Identifying what actually happened between parties to an employment dispute by establishing and mapping facts is an important step in any resolution process.
Mapping Facts
When looking to find out what led to a dismissal, a performance appraisal system that is developed and agreed upon by both the employee and the employer should be utilised.

Employers and employees agree upfront on performance indicators tied to their role and an overall index of productivity.
Convening
Opening a channel of communication between parties to employment dispute is essential for resolution. This involves bringing parties to the table or into communication with one another.
Convening
In-house dispute resolution experts such as an internal ombudsman can help employers and employees to open channels for communication and settlement.

However, where possible, employers should invest in third-party dispute resolution to ensure impartiality and improve resolution rates.
Communicating (1)
Building understanding between parties to an employment dispute means uncovering and recognising their respective emotions, needs and interests.
Communicating (1)
When information-sharing takes place between employer and employee, they can build common understanding by focusing on their relationship, rather than solely on material outcomes (such as money and assets).
Communicating (2)
In times of a pandemic, more disputes will need to be solved online. In workplace disputes, disputing parties are likely to have several or serious grievances against each other. To be able to mediate the dispute swiftly, it is in the interest of the parties to compose themselves and reflect over an issue before contacting the other party.
Communicating (2)
Text-based online mediation helps disputing parties as well as the mediator in communicating effectively, as opposed to face-to-face online mediation where people are likely to react in the heat of the moment and not deliberate before responding.
Communicating (3)
Symmetrical internal communication systems ensure that organizations and leaders genuinely listen, address employees’ feedback, value their inputs, and care about employees’ interests and welfare.
Communicating (3)
Symmetrical communication establishes a two-way communication channel. Communication channels that can promote symmetrical internal communication include team meetings, group problem-solving sessions, supervisor briefings, employee one-on-one meetings, suggestion boxes, employee hotlines, annual surveys to gather employee feedback.
Resolving (1)
In order to reach a sustainable resolution for employment disputes related to dismissal, the employer and employee must negotiate to reach a fair agreement on severance pay and other agreements on sharing.
Resolving (1)
Comprehensive and systematic severance pay formulas can improve the well-being of the employer and the employee in the aftermath of a dismissal.

The following elements are important to such a formula: age, tenure, character of employment, firm size and economic situation, salary and cost of employment.
Resolving (2)
Most disputes between parties are solved by reaching agreements. In an employment setting, evaluative and facilitative mediation can be effective ways to shape solutions.
Resolving (2)
Evaluative mediation is more useful when disputing parties have unrealistic expectations of the outcome of the dispute, when clients require an objective opinion of an expert, when parties want a quick resolution to the dispute and when resolving relational aspects of the issue is not important and where there is distribution of material and financial resources.
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