What is mediation?


Sometimes conflicts will arise among school staff where mediation can be a useful way of resolving disputes in school. Workplace mediation is a confidential process, usually carried out by a trained, neutral mediator who works with all parties to try to reach an agreed solution.

Mediation cannot be used if a claim has been made, or could be made, to an employment tribunal about a dispute. We have written another article which provides an overview of employment tribunals.

In this article, we explain what mediation is, what is involved in the process and link to further information.

What is mediation?

GOV.UK explains mediation is when an independent and impartial third party discusses a problem with you and your employer (or between you and another employee) to try and find a solution. It’s often used after informal discussions have not come up with a solution.

Mediation should not be used to solve problems that have to be formally investigated (for example, disciplinary or misconduct).

ACAS explains the mediation helps to mend workplace relationships by:

  • Finding solutions that everyone agrees to
  • Improving communication between both sides of the dispute
  • Allowing both sides to have control of what’s finally agreed

Mediation can help to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Keep valuable employees
  • Avoid more formal processes, such as going to employment tribunal
  • Stop more grievances being raised

Mediation outcomes are decided by both side and can be flexible. Outcomes might include:

  • An acknowledgement of each party’s views
  • A commitment to change behaviour
  • A commitment to regularly review the agreement reached
  • An agreement to review policies and procedures
  • An agreement to share more fairly and provide more responsibility

When can mediation be used?

Mediation can be used to resolve disputes about workplace relationships rather than other disputes, such as pay or issues related to dismissal or conduct. Mediation can be used to resolve:

  • Bullying and harassment
  • Communication problems
  • Personality clashes
  • Relationship breakdowns

ACAS explain it is a good idea to try and resolve the problem informally first, before thinking about using mediation. 

We have written another article which provides advice on how to raise a concern informally with your line manager.

If the problem cannot be resolved informally, you can use mediation. Mediation can be used at any stage in a dispute, but it’s best to start it as soon as possible. If you are an Edapt subscriber you can contact us for more information.

What happens in a mediation meeting? 

ACAS explains when you first use a mediator to resolve a workplace dispute, the mediator will meet both sides separately. This helps each side tell their story and tell the mediator what they want from mediation. You do not need to bring someone with you to the meeting.

In the next stage, the mediator brings both sides together for a joint meeting. Together, you can agree how everyone will behave in a joint meeting. You can ask for a break at any time. 

The mediator asks the participants to tell their side of the story, without any interruption, and then sums up the main areas of agreement and disagreement and will talk about what will happen next. 

Once the mediator knows the issues that need looking at, they’ll encourage you to talk to the other side. The mediator will work with both sides to help you move your focus from the past to the future, and agree solutions to your dispute.

The mediator will help check that any solution and agreement are workable and will discuss recording the agreement you reach.  

Once both sides have reached an agreement, the mediator will end the mediation. The mediator will encourage both sides to keep a written record of what’s been agreed so that everyone is clear about the way forward. The mediator will explain each person’s responsibilities for making the agreement work.  

The agreement will only be shared with the parties involved in mediation and anyone they give consent to share it with.

If the mediation proves to be unsuccessful you can contact us for further support and advice on next steps to take.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.