Frequently asked questions about mediation

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Mediation is a form of conflict resolution that allows individuals to help clarify their concerns involved and to explore options for resolution. Mediation helps parties that are in disagreement to seek a resolution through an impartial third party known as a mediator. 

  • Mediation can support wellbeing as it may result in a faster outcome without the need for formal processes, which can be lengthy, stressful and complex.
  • Mediation gives individuals greater control, as they take ownership of the resolution and outcome they are seeking.
  • Mediation can restore or repair a working relationship through re-establishing communication channels and understanding between colleagues.
  • Experienced, external mediators are well-equipped to find resolutions to complex or sensitive issues for staff in all roles and grades – they have the time, skills and objectivity to maximize the chances of a successful outcome.
  • 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 or of criminal acts
  • 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 onto a more positive footing. Mediators are trained to remain neutral and impartial and to help both/all parties equally.  Mediators do not express opinions or make judgments 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 1 – Assessment of potential suitability
  • 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, to explain the process of mediation and answer 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 focusing 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 will not disclose the contents of the mediation agreement without the express consent of the parties.

Mediation sessions on average take up to one day, however the mediator may recommend longer in specific situations.

Team mediation is available in specific circumstances.

Any member of University staff who is seeking a resolution can be referred for mediation as long as the key principles are observed, and with the agreement of all parties and the Department.

The University department/ faculty will be required to pay the full amount of mediation, which normally lasts one day. The University uses two external mediation companies as follows:

TCM Group -

Steve Hindmarsh Ltd -

The University has not yet used the ACAS Mediation Service but is aware that it can provide an effective service (

Costs can be supplied by the providers directly, but costs approximately £1,275 inclusive of VAT per day.

Any University staff members identified by the department/faculty, and whose issues have the potential to be solved by mediation (see question 20 for matters which cannot be mediated).

  • Restore or repair a working relationship, rather than matters of fact
  • Re-establish communication channels between work colleagues
  • Can be used in any stage but is most beneficial when used at an early stage

Mediation is an informal process and it therefore does not prevent staff from invoking the formal University procedures if they wish, such as the grievance procedure.

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 encouraged by the University.

Start by discussing the issues which are of concern to you with your line manager or HR contact, and let them know that you think mediation might be a good option.

Any resolution achieved at a mediation will be recorded in an agreement. The agreement will only be disclosed to the University officers and other parties with the express consent of all parties.

Unfortunately it is not always possible for parties to reach an agreement, but they may agree ways of working that will help reduce conflict between them.

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.

The HR contact and HR Business Partner will keep a record that mediation has occurred, and if the outcome is shared with them they will keep a record of the outcome. All records are retained in accordance with the guidance on retention of staff records and GDPR policy and procedure.