Guidance on mediation

What is mediation?  

Mediations helps parties that are in disagreement to seek a resolution through an impartial third party outside of their department/faculty known as a mediator. Mediation has many benefits including improving relationships between individuals to try and resolve issues informally with the assistance of a qualified external mediator who is impartial. The University actively encourages colleagues to seek informal resolution at an early stage and several of the University policies and procedures eg University policy and procedures on Harassment, University procedures for resolving staff grievance, advocate that issues will be dealt with and satisfactorily resolved through informal discussion and mediation facilitates this.

Benefits of Mediation

  • Mediation can be beneficial with assisting with wellbeing as it may result in a faster outcome without the need for a formal process thus preventing the need to go through a lengthy formal process which may be stressful and complex.
  • Mediation can give parties greater control as the individual parties can take ownership of the resolution and outcome they are seeking.
  • Enhance awareness of the value of early intervention when applied appropriately and restore or repair a working relationship through re-establishing communication channels between work colleagues.
  • 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.

The mediation session normally takes about a day and the external mediator is there to facilitate the session to assist the parties to reach a resolution. It is important to recognise that mediation does not always result in resolution. Cases where parties are not prepared to share their interests and revise their positions are unlikely to reach resolution. Clearly there will be situations where mediation is not appropriate but it has proven in certain contexts to be invaluable in resolving parties’ issues informally.

Principles of Mediation

The following principles apply to mediation:

  • Voluntary -  thus it must be agreed by all parties as an appropriate way forward and a written agreement to mediate is signed to this effect by the parties
  • Confidential
  • Non-binding unless all parties reach a signed agreement

It is useful to bear in mind that people will usually be asked to participate positively in the process including working with the other participant(s) constructively and focussing on solutions.

The University uses two mediation providers:

  • TCM Group
  • Steve Hindmarsh Ltd

This is not official endorsement, but the University’s experience is that Steve Hindmarsh works well for academics and research staff and have experienced TCM Group working well for support and professional services staff. Costs can be supplied by the providers directly, but approximate costs are £1,275 inclusive of VAT per day. The department/ Faculty will be required to pay the full amount of the mediation session, which normally lasts one day. The ACAS Mediation Service is also available.

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. Each issue will be discussed and the options for change reviewed for workability.

Clearly mediation is voluntary and both parties must agree to engage in the process, and it does not preclude parties from utilising the established University staff procedures if they wish. It therefore is just one of a number of mechanisms available in resolving concerns between colleagues.

 
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