Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential form of alternative dispute resolution. It involves an independent, impartial person helping two or more individuals or groups reach a solution that's acceptable to everyone. The mediator can talk to both sides separately or together. Mediators do not make judgments or determine outcomes - they ask questions that help to uncover underlying problems, assist the parties to understand the issues and help them to clarify the options for resolving their difference or dispute.
The overriding aim of workplace mediation is to restore and maintain the employment relationship wherever possible. This means the focus is on working together to go forward, not determining who was right or wrong in the past.
Many kinds of dispute can be mediated if those involved want to find a way forward. It can be used at any stage in a dispute but is most effective before positions become entrenched. You might want to think about writing a mediation stage into your individual grievance procedure.
Agreements reached through mediation are not intended to be legally binding or enforceable, but binding in honour only. However, where both parties agree, legally binding agreements can be drawn up in some circumstances, and these are set out below. You are strongly advised to take legal advice before entering into any legally binding agreement.