It is a process where a specially trained, neutral third party helps parties in dispute to find a way forward. Examples of situations that may benefit from mediation are:
Mediation is voluntary and no party can be compelled to participate or required to continue with the process once it has started.
Mediation is confidential which ensures that the parties can talk openly to the mediator without fearing that the other party or anyone outside the mediation will find out what has been discussed. Information is only shared where permission has been given to do so.
Mediation is non-binding in that the parties are not held to their words. However, an agreement is usually put in place at the end of the mediation process which is made in good faith by the parties. The agreement will only contain terms which the parties have explicitly agreed to.
Mediation which is carried out in the context of a pre-termination discussion/negotiation may result in a draft settlement agreement being drawn up for consideration.
Mediation is 'without prejudice' in that, if the matter escalates to a different arena (such as a court or employment tribunal), anything which has been discussed in the mediation cannot be referred to or quoted.
There are a number of advantages in using mediation in preference to a formal grievance procedure or litigation. These include:
The following steps will normally be followed (assuming all parties have agreed in principle to participating in the mediation process):
Note: the mediator will need to liaise with the organisation over the administrative arrangements for the mediation, but will not report back on the mediation content or outcome without express permission from the parties.
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