Employment Mediation in the new MBIE Resolution Services Team
Recently, Adrienne Meikle, the General Manager of Resolution Services at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), spoke to the ADLS Employment Law Committee.
The presentation brought the Committee up to date with recent changes and planning for improvements in MBIE’s Employment Mediation Service. MBIE also sought feedback from the committee and welcomes any other employment law practitioner feedback on its mediation services.
Currently, the Employment Mediation Service team across New Zealand completes around 9,500 employment mediations and agreed settlements each year. 4,000 of these are face to face mediations. The vast majority of mediations are in Auckland, almost double those in the other main centres.
This year, MBIE has obtained funding to establish a Government Centre for Dispute Resolution (Centre). This is a prototype initiative with seed funding for two years.
During this period, the Centre will look at some key dispute resolution issues with the aim of developing options for the future, including the following questions:
- What should the government’s role in dispute resolution be?
- How valid are any economic assumptions being made about dispute resolution and what is its cost-effectiveness?
- Should the government look to standardise or consolidate existing dispute resolution processes in any way?
- How can MBIE, the Ministry of Justice and the state sector work together on dispute resolution?
- How much of a role should private providers of dispute resolution play?
The high level aims of the Centre are unlikely to have an impact on employment lawyers and their clients immediately. However, there are some lofty ambitions set for this Centre and it appears to be an interesting chance to look across the whole of the government arm of dispute resolution in a way that has not been done before.
In the short- to medium-term, the focus for the Employment Mediation Service appears to be readying itself for the future and the development of case management and IT capability. MBIE is working towards (ultimately) providing an online booking system for mediations and allowing parties to track the progress of their cases. We have been assured that specialist mediators for employment mediation will continue.
The Auckland Mediation Service now has a new triage system for prioritising mediations. A mediator will vet incoming mediations each day to determine priority and urgent mediations will be allocated to available slots each week. The Mediation Service has noticed an increase in urgent requests so this new triage system is a response to this demand.
In Auckland, mediations are now most effectively sought through either email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or calling the Auckland Mediation Service reception on 09 928 2025 and asking for a Mediation Support Officer.
Adrienne Meikle says she would welcome any feedback on the Employment Mediation Service, so please feel free to contact her at email@example.com.