What is mediation?
Mediation helps parties that are in disagreement to seek a resolution through an impartial third party known as a mediator. Mediation can have many benefits, including the timely and informal resolution of workplace issues and lasting improvements to relationships. The University actively encourages colleagues to seek informal resolution to issues before pursuing formal procedures, such as those relating to grievances and bullying and harassment. Mediation can be an effective means of achieving this.
The mediation session normally takes about a day and is facilitated by the external mediator. The aim is to identify the key issues of concern and the options for moving forward. Each issue will be discussed and the options for change reviewed for workability, before a plan for the future is agreed.
Mediation does not always result in resolution – if the parties are not prepared to share their interests and revise their positions, they are unlikely to reach resolution. It does not, of course, preclude the parties from using the formal procedures if they wish. However, in many circumstances, mediation has proved invaluable in resolving issues informally.
Benefits of mediation
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
Principles of mediation
The following principles apply to mediation:
- Voluntary - all parties must agree that mediation is appropriate. A written agreement to mediate is signed by the parties. Once the parties have agreed to mediate, they will be expected to participate positively in the process, including working constructively with the other party and focusing on solutions
- Confidential - the parties agree what outcomes, if any, are to be shared with their colleagues and manager(s)
- Outcomes are non-binding unless all parties reach a signed agreement
The University uses two mediation providers:
The University is not in a position to endorse any mediation provider, and departments (who pay for the mediators they use) should speak to the providers about their particular situation and needs.
The University’s experience is that Steve Hindmarsh Ltd works well for academics and research staff. TCM Group has worked effectively with support and professional services staff.
The University has not yet used the ACAS Mediation Service, but is aware that it can provide an effective service (https://www.acas.org.uk/mediation).
Costs will be supplied by the providers directly, but (as at October 2019) are approximately £1,275 inclusive of VAT per day.