FAQ: Use of Mediation

FAQ: Use of Mediation

FAQ: Use of Mediation in Harassment and Bullying Procedure for staff

Contact Officer: Director of Personnel

Purpose
This series of questions and answers provides a brief overview of what mediation is, the mediation process and how it can be used in cases of harassment and bullying

All about mediation
What is mediation?
Is mediation confidential and “without prejudice”?
Who provides mediation?
Is mediation binding?
What do I do if I want to use mediation?
Do I have to agree to mediation?
What can I do if I don’t like the choice of mediator?
What happens during mediation?
What happens after mediation if the parties reach an agreement?
What happens after mediation if the parties don’t reach an agreement?

Guidelines / Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation?
Mediation is a process of resolving disputes between two or more parties in an informal way. The focus is on assisting the people involved to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both. No decisions are imposed by the mediator, whose role it is to ensure that discussions can take place in a safe environment, and where each person is heard and listened to. Back to top.

Is mediation confidential and without prejudice?
Yes, mediation is confidential and “without prejudice”. This means that both parties can speak freely safe in the knowledge that anything that is said in mediation cannot be subsequently used against them. This is to ensure that the best possible chance is given to reaching agreement. Back to top.

Who provides mediation?
The university has a list of internal/external professionally qualified mediators it can call on to offer support to staff and students. They can help develop options and may make recommendations but will make no decision. In most cases mediation will be provided by a suitably trained member of staff. External mediation may be used in more complex cases and will be subject to the approval of the Director of Personnel/Vice Chancellor or designate. Back to top.

Is mediation binding?
No, mediation isn’t binding on the parties. A mediator will help develop options and may make recommendations in order to help find a mutual resolution to the issue raised, but neither party has to agree to these. Back to top.

What do I do if I want to use mediation?
Contact either the Personnel Department or an Initial/Harassment Advisor. They will then contact the alleged harasser and advise them of the complaint against them and the request for mediation. If you are the alleged harasser/bully and you want to suggest using mediation, the same process applies, but in this case it would be the complainant that would be advised of the request for mediation. Back to top.

Do I have to agree to mediation?
Neither party has to agree to mediation, but it can be very useful as it offers a less adversarial alternative to formal procedures. The emphasis in mediation is on reaching a mutual agreement to resolve the situation whilst maintaining and preserving an effective working or studying relationship. Mediation is entirely voluntary and no adverse assumption will be made if mediation is refused. It may be that the timing is not right for one of the parties. Back to top.

What can I do if I don’t like the choice of mediator?
It’s important that both sides have confidence in the mediator. For mediation to take place both the complainant and the alleged harasser/bully must agree on the mediator. If there is no agreement on the mediator, then as far as is reasonably possible, another mediator will be assigned. Back to top.

What happens during mediation?
• An independent impartial mediator will be assigned and an appointment made. The initial meeting with the mediator will be for up to one hour on an individual basis, for the parties to decide whether mediation is the appropriate way forward. The mediator does not give advice to the parties and will not normally see nor speak to them on an individual basis, except for this initial meeting.
• Subsequent meeting(s) is held with all parties in attendance and is vital to enable the mediator to assist the parties in reaching a workable agreement for both parties.
• During mediation the complainant and the alleged harasser/bully can be accompanied by a support worker, e.g. signer, interpreter etc, but this person will be required to wait in a separate room for them. Parties undergoing mediation will be able to ask for an adjournment so they can see and talk to their supporter.
• The meetings will take up to three hours, and you would normally be offered a follow-up session. If the mediator believes that extra sessions would be useful they will discuss this with the parties. Back to top.

What happens after mediation if the parties reach an agreement?
• You may not agree to everything but those areas that you can agree on, may with the agreement of both parties, be recorded in a document. This is drafted by the mediator and given to both parties. It is not a legally binding document but a shared consensus between the parties. This document is not shown to anyone from the University.
• The mediator will inform the Personnel Department that an agreement has been reached but not the content of that agreement. Back to top.

What happens after mediation if the parties don’t reach an agreement?
If both parties don’t reach an agreement the mediator will inform the Personnel Department. Personnel will then contact both parties to confirm that mediation hasn’t been successful and to advise the parties on further options available. Back to top.

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Associated Documents
Staff Grievance [Word] and Disciplinary Policy and Procedure [Word] 
Whistle blowing Policy and Procedure [Word]

Date Approved 12.01.12
Approval Authority Director of Personnel

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