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 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 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.
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.