Sort out problems through workplace mediation
Workplace mediation is a process in which those with a disagreement or dispute meet with an independent mediator to try to resolve their differences and agree on how to move forward.
It is a much quicker and easier way to resolve a dispute than going to a Tribunal.
Usually, it will be arranged for a single day or be broken down into smaller chunks of a couple of hours. In some cases it is free.
Mediation is voluntary and confidential to those attending. As a result, it is non-confrontational.
Parties are encouraged to listen to the other party and to look forward to a solution. The focus is not on looking back at what has happened or whose fault it might be.
The mediator will not give legal advice to either party and will not produce ‘a solution’. Whether to come to any agreement or not is up to the participants, the mediator does not give a judgment of any kind. The process is ‘without prejudice’ (“off the record”) so cannot be referred to in a future legal action if no agreement is reached.
Parties may or may not bring a lawyer to the mediation. However It can be useful to bring one friend/adviser to assist and discuss progress as the mediation continues.
In some cases it may be possible to find a lawyer to help an employee for free.
It is important that those attending a workplace mediation on behalf of an employer have sufficient authority to agree to a way forward on behalf of their organisation.
The mediator will sometimes bring along an observer to help trainee-mediators or others understand how it works. All will be bound by the confidentiality agreement.
All parties need to know in advance who will be there. Therefore, the mediator will check this beforehand and make sure everyone has this information.
It is a very flexible process which the mediator will arrange in the most constructive way possible for those attending.
Usually, it will be a mix of joint meetings for all attendees and private sessions for each party with the mediator. The participants can talk to the mediator beforehand about the structure of the mediation.
Parties will be asked to provide a brief chronological summary of what has happened and ideas of outcomes in advance. If more formal legal documents are involved, the mediator may need these too.
The mediator will usually speak to the parties ahead of the mediation to introduce themselves and talk about the mediation process.
We ask parties to be as open as possible with the mediator to give them the best chance of helping them to find a settlement.
Mediation outcomes are up to the parties, so there is no pressure for anyone to accept anything they are not happy with.
Solutions can include practical as well as financial provisions. An agreement can be written up in a legally binding document, or may be agreed as a matter of trust. It is up to the parties and the circumstances.
Settlement in workplace mediations is common, but if it is not possible to find a solution, the parties still have all other options open to them.
They are then free to use internal formal processes or take the case to an employment tribunal.
They cannot talk about what happened in the mediation beyond the fact that a workplace mediation has taken place but didn’t end with an agreement.
It is quite possible to have more than two parties in a workplace mediation if this is relevant. For example, a manager and multiple team members may be struggling to work together. Mediation could involve all of them to try and find a way forward.
It may be appropriate to split the time over a couple of days, either for practical reasons or availability of those involved.
Mediation can be done online, and this can be very effective. For on-line mediation all parties will need to have access to a mobile phone or other device able to access suitable platforms, usually Zoom or Teams.
Live or work in London? You could qualify for 6 hours free mediation through the DRAW project, funded by Trust For London.