Without Prejudice Conversations
- Date: Thursday 29th September 2016
Some of you may have had these conversations in the past, without even knowing it: The honest chat. The frank word. The courtyard conversation. The one where all parties just say what they think, without it being recorded or used again in the future.
Without Prejudice Conversations can be very useful when it comes to conflict resolution or when you have to open the door to talks about settlement agreements etc. However, they do not come without pitfalls so this month we would like to provide you with a quick guide to how to do it properly:
- Think about what you want to say
Just because the conversation is un-minuted does not mean it should be unstructured. Ask yourself what you want to get out of it and if an off-the-record chat really is the best option
- Communicate clearly
You need to let your employee know what the conversation is about, who will be present and that it will be a ‘without prejudice’ conversation. The clearer you are on this, the better, because your team member won’t feel ambushed or confused.
- Lay down the rules...and stick to them
You need to make it clear at the start of the meeting that none of its content will be used as evidence going forward. This includes internal proceedings as well as external court action.
You may wish to agree to switch off mobile phones and point out that there are no recording devices in the room before you start.
- Watch your language
Don’t forget that, just because things are off the record, this does not mean that all will be forgotten and forgiven once you part company. Try to remain diplomatic and professional. Don’t forget that the Human Rights Act trumps common law. Therefore, if you mention anything in your ‘honest conversation’ that could be interpreted as discriminatory, your employee is still entitled to use the comments you made in a tribunal!
- Agree on next steps
Coming out of your talk, you both should have a clear understanding of what will happen next. Make sure you follow up on commitments and set up formal processes if needed.
Source: SSG - Manuela Grossmann