Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral, non-judgemental third party brings the parties in conflict together in a safe environment to facilitate open and honest dialogue as a first step in helping the parties find mutually agreed solutions. This approach operates outside of any formal dispute or grievance procedures and is entered into voluntarily by both parties. It is best attempted before the situation escalates into
a formal dispute. Exploring mediation options usually starts with informal discussions with HR advisors or one of the accredited
mediators within the College.

Accredited mediators all have the industry standard National Certificate in Workplace Mediation and participate in regular quality assurance activities.

All College employee may choose to use Mediation.

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Key areas of this policy

  • Pre mediation
  • Individual meetings
  • Joint meetings
  • Concluding mediation
  • Post mediation
  • Terms of Reference

Key roles and responsibilities

RolesResponsibilities
The Mediator Supports participants to reach a resolution and to remain impartial
Participants Enters positively into the process
Manager Promotes mediation as a way of resolving disputes, as and when applicable
Human Resources Advises on the procedure and offer support as relevant
All of the above Maintains confidentiality

Frequently asked questions

Participants' FAQs

Do I have to agree to take part in mediation?

No. Mediation is entirely voluntary and needs the agreement of both/all parties. If you agree to take part you are also free to leave or withdraw at any time. This allows you and the other party(ies) to drive the process yourselves and come to your own agreement rather than having an outcome imposed upon you. It is hoped that this will make you both/all feel more committed to what you agree.

Although Mediation is an informal alternative to formal procedures, you retain the right to use the College’s formal procedures should you choose to do so.

How confidential is mediation?

The process of mediation is entirely confidential. Any notes or records made by the mediator during the process will be destroyed after the process concludes. The mediator will not divulge any confidences that are shared unless given permission to do so. The one exception to this is where the mediator reasonably considers that the safety of any person is or may be at serious risk. Should this happen the mediation process will be stopped and Mediators will alert Human Resources.

By taking part in mediation will I give up my right to raise a formal grievance or complaint?

No. Mediation is ‘without prejudice’, and if you agree to try mediation you reserve your right to pursue formal procedures.   

What if I am unhappy with the mediation process?

Should you feel uncomfortable or unhappy with any aspect of the mediation process itself you should raise this with the mediator. If your concerns cannot be resolved the mediation will have to be abandoned. Since the mediation process is confidential it would not be appropriate for you to raise a formal grievance in relation to the mediation itself as there can be no meaningful investigation.

You will also be given the opportunity to complete an anonymous mediation evaluation form at the end of the process to provide feedback on what we are doing well and where we need to improve. It also lets us know how you are getting on after mediation and your views on the mediation process as a whole. Your response will be treated confidentially.

What can I expect to happen in mediation?

Once both/all parties have agreed to take part, the mediator appointed will contact you both/all arrange a date to meet.

The mediator will initially arrange to meet with each of you separately to find out more about the situation from your own perspectives before bringing you both/all together in a joint meeting. At the joint meeting your mediator will encourage all those present to participate. They will work with you to ensure you each have the same opportunity to express your feelings and concerns, look at the problems in turn and move towards a mutual solution. Your Mediator will support and encourage you to generate ideas for this solution but will not tell you what you should do.

When can I ask for mediation?

You can request mediation at any time and both before, during or after any formal proceedings as long as you genuinely want to see an end to the dispute.

Where will the mediation take place?

Mediation is arranged by the mediator at a neutral location convenient to both/all parties.

Is a mediation agreement binding?

During the final stage of the Mediation, you will be encouraged to agree a way forward and formulate a plan of action. If agreement is reached, it will be written down by the mediator and signed by all members of staff.  One copy will be given to each party, and one retained by the mediator.  This will be a written record of what is agreed. Any agreement reached is not legally binding but is covered by the confidentiality of the mediation.

What if I don't like the mediated agreement?

There can only be a mediated agreement when all parties agree. If you feel you are being asked to agree to something which you are not genuinely in favour of you should speak to the mediator to explain your objections. You and the other party/ies are responsible for defining the problem, deciding the content and terms of the agreement. No agreement can be imposed through mediation.

Can I be made to keep an agreement reached in mediation?

Parties who agree take part in mediation do so on the understanding that they intend to keep to any agreement reached. Whilst the agreement is not legally binding, it is hoped that individuals will follow the agreement.

Will mediation work?

Mediation has a high success rate but of course there can be no guaranteed outcome. The mediator is there to help but it is up to the parties involved to reach their own agreement.

What if I'm not ready to be in the same room as the person I am having the disagreement or dispute with?

Your Mediators will take this into account and will not make you meet with the other party if you do not agree. However, for mediation to stand a chance of success all parties will eventually have to meet around the table.

What do I need to do before the mediation begins?

In preparing for any mediation meeting it may be helpful to think about how you can clearly describe the situation or issues that have brought you to mediation in the first place. In this way the other party/ies can better understand your point of view. Think about what is important to you, what you need from the other party and from your perspective what you believe is the best possible outcome.

 Will any information be disclosed to my manager?

Only if you and the other party agree for this information to be shared. Your mediator will not disclose anything beyond a statement that an agreement has or has not been reached unless both/all parties explicitly agree for them to do something different.

Am I allowed time off to attend mediation meetings?

Your line manager will normally agree to this, provided that there are no operational reasons for not doing so.

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

Mediation is quite different from arbitration.

Arbitration involves an impartial outsider making a firm decision on a dispute, based on the evidence presented by the parties. In arbitration both parties must agree in advance that they will abide by the arbitrator's decision.

In contrast, a mediator assists the parties in reaching a solution that is acceptable to each of them without imposing a decision. A mediator will not make judgments or determine outcomes—they simply ask questions that help to uncover underlying problems, assist the parties to understand the issues and help them to clarify the options for resolving their conflict.

 

 

Managers' FAQs

What is the purpose of mediation at work?

The purpose of mediation is for a neutral, independent mediator to assist those in conflict to resolve their differences and reach a mutually acceptable agreement on the way forward.

Mediation is:

  • A chance for parties to consider their real needs and interests
  • An opportunity for discussions on a without prejudice and confidential basis
  • Future focused, in addition to reviewing past events and present circumstances
  • An opportunity for more creative solutions than those available through formal procedures
What are the benefits of using workplace mediation?
  • Resolution can be achieved in days or weeks rather than months or years
  • Mediation can get to the issues which contributed to the creation of the dispute
  • Management time is better employed
  • Relationships can be preserved
  • The costs are lower
  • It avoids damage to the relationships within a team which could be caused by an internal investigation of a complaint
  • The process is entirely confidential
  • The process is actively managed by the parties
  • Various options to achieve the resolution can be explored and tested
  • The parties are more likely to abide by the solution since they design and agree to it
  • As the parties control the outcome, there is greater satisfaction with the results
When can we use mediation?

Mediation can be used at any time when the working relationship of two or more individuals has broken down. This may be before, during or after formal internal proceedings as long as both parties genuinely want to see an end to the dispute.

Mediation is appropriate when the individuals:

  • Have voluntarily chosen to take part and do not feel pushed in to it
  • Are committed to the process and want to solve their problems
  • Need help from an external party to work things out
  • Have to work together and cannot avoid the conflict between them
When is mediation not appropriate?

It may not be appropriate where:

  • One party has no genuine interest in reaching agreement
  • As a first resort, before an attempt has been made to resolve the dispute themselves
  • Where the line manager would be able to support the parties to resolve the conflict as part of their managerial responsibilities, without the intervention of a mediator
  • A decision about right or wrong is needed, for example where there is a possible disciplinary offence
  • The individual bringing a discrimination or harassment case wants it investigated
  • The parties do not have the power to settle the issue
Who covers the cost of mediation?

If an internal mediator is used the mediation itself is  free although there may be costs if rooms need to be booked. If an external mediator is engaged there will be costs for the mediation. In both circumstances the department employing the staff member who originally raised the concerns will be required to cover the cost..

Can a line manager request that a member of staff takes part in mediation?

Although the line manager may suggest this to the member of staff as a way to seek an informal resolution of an issue, they may not request it.

Should mediation take place during the individual’s working hours?

It is expected that mediation will normally take place during work time and that  line managers will agree to this, unless there are operational reasons for not doing so.

What can we do if one party does not wish to participate?

Not everyone will immediately agree to participate in mediation. They may be angry or so intent on proving the other party “wrong” that only the formal procedures will satisfy them.

Sometimes just waiting a few days or weeks can make a difference and parties may be more willing to discuss the options more calmly and openly. They may need some time to realise the time involved and implications of pursuing more formal procedures.

They may need more information about how mediation works and whether it meets their needs. Consider referring them to the mediation guidance and procedure available on the College website for information on the benefits of mediation and frequently asked questions for participants.

Of course, staff cannot be compelled to undergo mediation and whilst some may come round to the idea, others may never agree to participate and always have the right to refuse.

Will the line manager be provided with details of the mediation outcome?

The line manager will normally only be given basic information about whether an agreement has or has not been reached., The parties involved in the mediation may in addition agree to share more and they will have decided this as part of their agreement.

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

Mediation is quite different from arbitration.

Arbitration involves an impartial outsider making a firm decision on a dispute, based on the evidence presented by the parties. In arbitration both parties must agree in advance that they will abide by the arbitrator's decision.

In contrast, a mediator assists the parties in reaching a solution that is acceptable to each of them without imposing a decision. A mediator will not make judgments or determine outcomes—they simply ask questions that help to uncover underlying problems, assist the parties to understand the issues and help them to clarify the options for resolving their conflict.