What is the purpose of mediation?
Under the Employment Tribunal Rules, tribunals are actively required to encourage parties to use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) routes, such as mediation, wherever possible and where appropriate.
ACAS carried out a telephone interview survey of managers in 500 SMEs to assess their experience of mediation; of those that had used mediation, almost half said that the last mediation had resolved the issues completely, and more than 82% said it resolved the issues completely or partly.
ACAS and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) have a shared aim of promoting good dispute resolution such as mediation.
Who can mediate?
Mediators themselves are independent, professionally trained individuals, many of whom are lawyers.
Our Mediator, Mali Smith, has more than 20 years of experience advising companies and individuals on employment law matters, including representing in Judicial Mediation at different employment tribunals.
What are the benefits of employment mediation?
The benefits of mediation for employers are substantial:
- Costs - Generally, costs are significantly lower than pursuing a tribunal claim. For instance, we are able to run a day’s mediation at a fraction of the cost of defending a tribunal claim.
- Fast resolution - The process can be considerably faster – there is no tribunal backlog to negotiate and, depending on the matter being mediated, we can resolve the dispute within a short timeframe.
- Collaboration - Mediation is a collaborative process, an experienced mediator can often get to the nub of the problem very quickly and agree on a more flexible remedy: a financial settlement is not always the only way to reach an agreement.
- Impartiality and confidentiality - Mediation is impartial and confidential, both parties are encouraged to speak openly: the mediator will only disclose information to the other side if agreed. The mediator may also stress the importance of both parties taking legal advice to compliment the mediation, this ensures that all parties understand the legal consequences of the agreement they reach.
- Management time - It saves a substantial amount of management time (according to a CIPD survey, employers spend, on average, six days dealing with an individual disciplinary case, and five days with a grievance).
- Success – Mediation has a high success rate.
- Mediation capacity – Mediation can resolve conflicts between colleagues, between a line manager and their staff, and between teams or groups of employees.
- Issues - Mediation can be used to address a range of issues such as relationship breakdowns, personality clashes and communication problems. Mediation can also be adopted following a HR process and as part of a grievance or disciplinary outcome.
What is the workplace mediation process?
There are different stages of mediation:
- Separate meeting with the participants – The mediator may ask each participant to write a statement telling his/her story. The mediator will also arrange a meeting with each participant. This meeting is aimed to allow each participant to tell their story and what they hope to achieve from the mediation. It also helps the mediator to build a rapport with the participants before the mediation.
- Joint meeting
- Drawing an agenda – The mediator will invite the parties to put their story in an open forum before them and the other participants. The aim of this stage is to explore the issues that need to be resolved and to draw up an agenda with the parties.
- The issues – Having explored the issues to resolve with the participants, the mediator will encourage the participants to communicate more openly and shift the focus to an amicable and creative resolution.
- The agreement – The mediator will support the participants to reach a workable agreement and shall record the terms of the agreement.
- Closing – Once the agreement is signed by the participants, the mediator will explain the participants’ responsibilities for its implementation and bring the mediation to a close. If no agreement is reached, the mediator may explore other options with each participant.