Mediation can be defined as a form of conflict resolution allowing individuals to help clarify the concerns involved and to explore options for resolution. Mediation helps parties that are in disagreement to seek a resolution through an impartial third party outside of their department known as a mediator. Parties that are in disagreement are helped to explore each other’s positions, interests, common ground and to agree a way forward that is amicable to all parties.
Assisting with wellbeing as may result in a faster outcome without the need for a formal process with the preservation of relationships
Greater control as the individual parties can take ownership of resolution outcome
Enhance awareness of the value of early intervention when applied appropriately
External mediators are potentially better equipped to deal with complex or potentially sensitive cases with a range of staff from across the University and have more time and potentially experience in mediation as they are carrying out mediations on a regular basis and the parties have very little if any prior knowledge of the external mediator.
Voluntary - mediation must be agreed by all parties as an appropriate way forward and a written agreement is signed to this effect
Confidential- all parties agree that issues raised in private will only be communicated outside the mediation with their agreement. The only exception to this rule of strict confidentiality is where there is evidence of serious risk to self or others
Non-binding unless all parties reach a signed agreement
Mediation is an informal process and therefore parties are not permitted to be accompanied to these sessions, unless there are exceptional circumstances and all parties are comfortable with this arrangement.
This is normally the case in order to seek a resolution however there may be exceptional circumstances when the meditator feels that it is appropriate to shuttle between the parties in order to help facilitate a resolution.
The mediator is present to help people explore ways of reaching resolution and/or putting their working relationships on to more positive footings. Mediators are trained to remain neutral and impartial and to help both/all parties equally. Mediators do not express opinions or make judgements about who is right or wrong. Any choices and decisions made during mediation are the participants’ decisions and choices– mediators do not impose decisions. The aim is that, by the end of the process, the mediator(s) will have helped people identify the key issues of concern, and options for moving forward.
Stage 2- Mediation proposed and parties agree to attempt to seek a resolution
Stage 3 – Mediator introduces themselves to the parties separately normally over the phone explains process of mediation and answers any questions
Stage 4 – Mediator meets both parties separately and confidentially to discuss their concerns and to ensure that the party agrees to mediation
Stage 5 – Joint meeting where the ‘ground rules’ are set including working with the other participant(s) constructively and focussing on solutions. The parties meet with the mediator together to seek a resolution/agreement (a minimum of one day (7.5 hours) should be allocated to this stage)
Stage 6 – Mediator contacts the parties to follow up after the mediation session if agreed and required
Stage 7 – Mediator confirms to appropriate person that mediation has taken place, but would not disclose the contents of the mediation agreement without the expressed consent of the parties.
Whilst the Faculty/ department is not precluded from sourcing their own external mediator and whilst this is not official endorsement the ones recommended have completed successful mediations for the University and are aware of the sector.
Mediation is an informal process and therefore is not legally binding. However it is actively encouraged by ACAS for the resolution of some workplace conflict situations, and is actively encourage by the University.
Unless the parties agree the departmental contact will inform University HR that mediation has taken place and record that mediation has taken place. This information will be held confidentially and securely in accordance with the University Data Protection policy and procedure and GDPR guidance.
There are certain circumstances where the use of mediation is not appropriate, for example:
When a staff member wishes somebody to decide on who is right or wrong
If the issue has arisen from a matter of fact rather than relationship issues and or perception of difference is at the heart of the issue
Where partaking in the process could be detrimental for one or both of the parties’ health (However where a staff member has a disability it would be appropriate to consider if there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to enable full participation in the mediation process).
If somebody is not performing in their role for reasons other than the stress caused by any workplace conflict this should be dealt with as a capability issue under the disciplinary procedure and not through mediation.