Mediations involving two parties usually take a day.
They begin with preparatory meetings between each party and the mediator. The two parties then meet together with the mediator for face to face mediation. Once a potential way forward has been identified, there is a detailed planning session, the outcomes of which form the basis for a written mediation agreement.
Occasionally, mediations involving two parties take less than a day or need to re-convene on a second day, but this is comparatively rare. Mediations involving more than two individual parties, or whole teams, may take several days.
Mediation can take place on-site, but participants often prefer it not to take place in the workplace. A neutral space somewhere else can help you to focus and get perspective. It also provides additional re-assurance that confidentiality is being maintained. If rooms are to be hired off-site, the employer will be expected to meet the cost.
A mediation requires three separate rooms. Confidentiality is key, so it must not be possible for conversations to be overheard outside. In the initial stage of the mediation, the two parties will each need separate rooms, where they can prepare on their own and with the mediator. The third room is where the two parties and the mediator will meet together for the exchange and planning stages of the mediation.
Mediation means the involvement of an independent neutral third party, and you will not usually have tried this already. The mediator will foster a safe and constructive environment where you and the other party can exchange views and understanding openly and honestly. You and the other person will have the opportunity to describe and consider the causes and impacts of the conflict on yourselves and each other. He will help you to explore all of the issues in full, and support you in generating and evaluating possible options for moving forward.
No. Mediation is a voluntary process. If your employer has suggested it and you're not sure about attending, I am available to speak with you to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have.
You, the other party to the mediation, and the mediator. Generally it is the people who are actually involved in a dispute who are the best people to resolve it.
The day will normally begin with an individual meeting between the mediator and each party when the confidentiality agreement is signed and the format of the day is discussed.
The mediator will then see you alone to ask you to explain your understanding of the conflict with the other party. He will take notes and ask questions to ensure he has a firm grasp of your point of view, to begin to identify the root cause of the conflict and to understand its impact on you. He will then leave you on your own to prepare what you want to say to the other party.
Once you're ready, the mediator will ask you to run through with him what you have prepared. He will ask questions and ensure that you're clear about what you want to say and what you hope for from the exchange of views.
You will then meet the other party, with the mediator. You will each begin by giving each other uninterrupted speaking time. This means that while you are saying what you've prepared, the other party must listen without interrupting. You are then expected to listen to the other party on the same basis. After this you and the other party will be able to speak to each other in a less formal way, with the mediator assisting with questions to both parties. This is a critical exchange of information and it allows issues to be aired that may previously have been hidden beneath the surface. The mediator's role is to help both parties have an open and honest dialogue, where the issues can be explored in full. His job is also help you to reach a way forward with the other party which is acceptable to you, and to ensure that respect is maintained on both sides.
The mediation will continue, either until resolution has been reached, or the parties agree to take a break and resume on another occasion, or one party chooses (or both parties choose) to abandon the mediation process.
Assuming that an agreement is reached between the parties, the mediator will assist by recording that agreement in a written document. This will be sent to you, normally the following day, and at the latest within 3 working days.
It is not the role of the mediator to decide who's right or wrong. It's up to you and the other party to reach your own solution, guided by the skills of the mediator. Essentially it doesn't matter what the mediator thinks, it only matters what each party has realised about their own and the other parties’ issues, and then what they choose to agree.
It is your right not to go to mediation if you decide it's not for you. However the situation you are in will remain unchanged unless you seek other ways of resolving the dispute, and in the absence of mediation, your employer will need to consider all the options. Mediation allows you to participate in finding a way forward which is acceptable to you. Other means of resolving the dispute may not allow this.
Mediation is conducted on a 'without prejudice' basis. This is a legal term meaning that the parties to a dispute can negotiate without fear that concessions made will be taken as admissions harming their legal position if the dispute is not resolved. Mediation is confidential, and you and the other party will sign a confidentiality agreement before the process begins. Neither you, the other party nor the mediator are allowed to disclose what was said after the mediation has concluded, and the content of the mediation cannot be used later by either side in formal proceedings. Notes from mediations are destroyed, and the mediator cannot be called upon to provide evidence subsequently.
The written mediation agreement prepared by the mediator is confidential to you and the other party. You cannot disclose its contents to anyone without the other party's consent, and vice versa.
About 80% of mediations are successful. However, there is no obligation on the parties to reach an agreement. If a day's mediation ends without agreement, the parties may decide to ask the employer for more time, or they may decide to continue on their own.
If they feel that mediation will not resolve their issues, both they and the employer will retain the right to use other workplace measures or legal procedures.
The mediator may occasionally close a mediation if it seems that there is no realistic likelihood of settlement. Even if no agreement is reached, it is often the case that the parties settle shortly afterwards anyway.
If you have other questions not covered by the above, do email me or give me a call and I will be happy to answer them.