Workplace Mediation Donegal

Workplace Mediation

Workplace conflict can emerge in many forms and timeframes. It is best dealt with early at source to stop any progression and possibility of it being allowed to fester and escalate, potentially leading to grievance and discipline procedures. Internal conflict is damaging to everyone affiliated with a firm. Eventually disputes can end up in an Employment Appeals Tribunal and in some instances in the Circuit Court.

Common examples would include:

  • Helping colleagues to form effective working relationships where a personality clash or other problem has arisen
  • Pay or contractual disputes between employers and employees.
  • Trying to provide an alternative to formal disciplinary/grievance procedures
  • Trying to rebuild a working relationship after a formal disciplinary/grievance process
  • Where there is perceived bullying or harassment

Workplace mediation is a process that invites the parties to be creative, collaborative and responsible for their own solutions. It is orientated to deal with relationships into the future and less concerned with deciding who is right or wrong than with solving problems so they don’t occur again.

While almost all businesses have formal policies and procedures in place to deal with workplace disputes (e.g. grievance procedures), some situations may be better suited to a less formal approach to resolving matters. Personality clashes often arise in the workplace and can be difficult to sort out using grievance processes.

Workplace mediation is a voluntary and confidential process. The mediation is carried out by a trained, neutral mediator who works with all parties to try to reach an agreed solution that is satisfactory to everyone involved. As opposed to court processes the mediator’s role is not to make a judgement on who’s right and who’s in the wrong. In fact, the mediator will not be making any decisions during mediation. The main goal of workplace mediation is to restore and maintain good and productive working relationships amongst the participants.

The Process

When the mediator is appointed, they will contact each of the participants individually in a pre-mediation session to explain the process and to get an overview of the issues. The mediator will request the parties sign up to a Mediation Agreement. This explains the mediation process, as well as setting out that all discussions are totally confidential, are treated as without prejudice and are in a genuine attempt to settle the dispute. This means that anything discussed during the mediation cannot then be used as evidence in any future legal proceedings.

The mediation joint session usually takes place off-site at a neutral venue and with the mediator and all the parties present. A virtual service is also offered if parties cannot attend for healthcare or other reasons if this is suitable to the dispute itself.

During the mediation a separate room can be made available to allow the participants an opportunity to talk privately with the mediator, themselves, or their legal representatives. All information given to the mediator during the mediation’s separate discussions will be kept confidential, unless express permission is given to offer it in the interest of progress.

The mediator often goes back and forth between the parties to seek an agreement between both sides before bringing both parties back together.

Potential beneficial outcomes:

  • In most cases of workplace mediation (89%) the parties come to a mutually agreed solution to resolve the conflict, which will allow a good working relationship to be restored.
  • Everyone will have had a chance to be heard and to have their say, which can help to improve the understanding of both sides going forward.
  • Mediation ensures the employment disputes are sorted out confidentially.
  • You have a cost effective way to resolve what could turn into a costly legal dispute
  • Mediation is a faster and more flexible informal approach to resolving workplace disputes than a formal grievance process or Employment Tribunal Litigation
  • If an agreement is reached through the mediation process, then the parties can enter a simple verbal agreement if this is agreeable between them. In addition a formal binding or non-binding document can be drawn up for both parties to enter into.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Best Time to Mediate?

When a party identifies a breakdown in communication, cooperation or understanding which is affecting their ability to carry out their work, this is usually the best time to try to find a solution to the issue. If workplace mediation is offered once the initial difficulties have been identified, this may make it easier for the parties to discuss their difficulties. Workplace mediation however has been successful even when problems have been left unaddressed, and matters have escalated to the stage when investigations have begun or disciplinary measures commenced or finalised or where there is a very uncomfortable working environment for the parties involved and those around them. Mediation has an 89% success rate in the workplace environments

Who pays for workplace Mediation?

It is in the interest of the organisation to have a harmonious working environment and in almost all cases the mediation is paid for by the employer.

What are the potential benefits?
  • The issues are raised and clarified.
  • Issues addressed jointly as well as individually.
  • Appreciation of differences is often a help to finding a solution.
  • Greater understanding of the impact of the issue on each other.
  • Learning and adapting new perspectives.
  • Greater chance of compromise.
  • Repairing and rebuilding working relationships.
Is it worth it?
Workplace mediation is a chance to resolving issues and to enable parties to work together in a harmonious and effective manner into the future. Solutions and strategies can be adapted to avoiding problems occurring again and/or escalating.
Even in the case where there has been a formal complaint, investigated and determined, workplace mediation is an opportunity to help restructure, rebuild and refocus the parties on their specific roles and to adhere to appropriate boundaries, enabling them to work better within their organisation alongside their fellow co-workers.
Where does the mediation take place?

Ultimately it is up to the employer who is paying for the mediation as to where it takes place but the vast majority of employers follow the advice of the mediator and agrees the mediation joint sessions are held in a neutral venue away from the workplace. This is usually in a hotel conference room agreeable to all the participants.

How long does the process take?

The majority of workplace mediation takes one two hour session. Some will take longer depending on the circumstances and the number of people involved.

What will the employer know?

When the mediation has concluded the mediator will make a brief statement which can be either verbal or written to the employer .The statement will include a list of names of those attending, the dates of meetings and whether a resolution was reached or not. It will not include any contents or conversations or any part of the workplace mediation process. It will note whether the situation was resolved or unresolved or indeed if agreement was reached on some issues and not others without specifying any detail. The participants can mutually agree on matters to be disclosed (if any) to their employer.