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Resolving a labor dispute, how does one proceed?

Answering this question depends a bit on the nature of the conflict and the relationship between the parties. For example, a conflict in the work relationship between two business partners is completely different compared to for example a conflict between an employee and an employer. However, reaching agreements on how to move on in a disturbed work relation is usually quite difficult due to the many different consequences and the emotional involvement. Questions such as:

  • What will happen financially?
  • How will it go in legal terms?

need answering, but can be difficult to be answered if the work relationship is disturbed. This disturbed relationship, in whatever occurrence, deserves customization of a well-informed mediator in order to reach peace and space, and going through the process step by step. Furthermore, this requisition enables one to make well-balanced and well-informed decisions to eventually start a new narrative. Below the labor mediation guidebook from AVANT Mediation, presented in 6 steps, is to be found.

Step by step


Individual intakes

The mediation process will be explained in this informative conversation.

In this opening phase the rules of the mediation will be explained. Elements such as impartiality and neutrality of the mediator will be addressed as well as offering an opportunity to ask questions. Generally, the intakes are held with both parties individually.


Individual exploration

Exploration of all the topics that needs to be addressed.

This phase is subsequently after the intake. Both parties can list topics that they would like to address in the mediation. This is done in a setting where there is space for each narrative. In this way it becomes clear which party should be involved during the joined exploration. For instance, because it needs to be clear that there is decision-making power present during the joined exploration phase.


Joined exploration

The joined exploration of all the topics that needs to be discussed.

The mediator facilitates the talks between the parties, who are both having a seat at the table. In those conversations, the parties are setting the pace and are prioritizing the topics of discussion. For instance, which practical matters should be addressed first due to the progress of the mediation? This needs to be done before one could slowly move towards making agreements.


Settlement agreement

The draft of future agreements.

In this phase all topics that need addressing will be discussed and elaborated upon. For instance, in a manner that addresses how the work relationship will be continued in the future, or how to end the work relationship. If everything is agreed upon, the mediator will put the agreements in writing in a preliminary settlement agreement.


Legal review and signing

The legal feedback of the future agreements and the signing of the settlement agreement.

The preliminary settlement agreement will be presented to the legal backing of both parties. In practice, the conduction of the settlement agreement and legal review are sometimes mixed up. Only when there is permission from both sides and there are no legal objections, will both parties sign the settlement agreement.


New narrative

The closure of the mediation and the opening of a new chapter.

When all the steps have been completed, the time has come to say goodbye in terms of how the work relationship was. If one takes a moment to close off the old work relationship, new space will appear to start a new narrative.

The advantage of mediation

The biggest advantage of employment mediation to resolve a disturbed work relationship is that there is space for the individual’s narrative. This goes without moving immediately towards exit-mediation. At the same time this is the main difference with taking it up in court. In court, a judge shall presumable rule to not extend the employment and will only come to a verdict in terms of any compensation. In any case, the process is usually very costly and time consuming. Furthermore, the room for self-determination is rather non-existent. Whereas a mediation on the other hand, builds around self-determination as a core: parties determine the pace, the topics of discussion, and the agreements. The mediator facilitates this process. Being conscious that the mediator has the knowledge and skills at hand in order to keep an overview of all the financial and legal possibilities, provides the parties usually with enough space to converse.


At an employment mediation in a disturbed work relationship, a mediator facilitates the conversation. In this conversation the mediator is always neutral and impartial. The parties themselves will generate dynamic and sustainable agreements about the continuation of the work relationship, or the breaking up of it.


Mediation is for anyone who would like to reach an agreement without losing self-determination in the process. The voluntary basis of both sides and the will to reach an agreement are the key elements of the mediation. Build upon this basis, both parties explore any different possibilities in an environment that is facilitated by a mediator. This prevents ongoing and costly legal proceedings.


The mediator can be seen as an interlocutor and preserves the progress of the process. He or she will let the parties search for an agreement. For instance, by letting both parties having a look in each other’s narratives. Every narrative is different and deserves therefore customization.


The advantage of mediation in comparison with a judge verdict is that both parties decide on the agreements. In that sense they have a voice in process and there will not be a loss of self-determination. Apart from gain in the sense of money and time, this generates more satisfaction on how to close the book on the disturbed work relationship in order to start a new narrative. After all, there is not a third-party dictating an agreement, the parties themselves are reaching the agreements.