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 Acas facilitated 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.
In about 80% of mediations undertaken by Acas, an agreement is reached.
You can find out more about using Acas mediation services in our Acas mediation questions and answers.
If you are an employer or HR Manager faced with a difference between individuals at work, read our six mediation top tips.
Collective mediation is a specific term used to refer to talks between representative groups (often trades union) and employers, facilitated by an independent third party.
Can Acas help?
Acas may be able to help you with our mediation services. With over 30 years of experience, working with organisations of all sizes, we have expert advisers and services to suit your situation.
Mediation guide for employers
Acas and the CIPD has published Mediation: An approach to resolving workplace issues [1Mb] which is available to download below:
A short summary of the guide can be found on the CIPD's website in the form of a factsheet.
Mediation: A guide for trade union representatives
Acas and the TUC have published Mediation: A guide for trade union representatives [1Mb] which is available to download.
Want to know what Mediation can look and feel like, then watch our online video to find out more.
A partnership approach to mediation
The NHS Social Partnership Forum worked in partnership with ACAS to introduce mediation as a method of resolving disputes in the workplace. Further information, including case studies are available from the NHS Social Partnership Forum website.
Did you know?
Acas run practical training courses to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to deal with employment relations issues and to create more productive workplace environments.
Click to view related Acas training and course dates in your area for:
- Mediation skills for managers
- Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation
- Having difficult conversations
- Managing discipline and grievance
- Improving supervisor skills
- Managing staff performance and appraisals
- Conducting Investigations.
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Acas Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation
The Acas Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation can help you or your managers develop the skills to effectively manage conflict and create resolutions within your workplace.
The CIWM course achieves highly positive feedback from delegates and is delivered to a small group over 5 days to ensure focused learning and the chance to learn in-depth skills from the Acas tutor.
Topics covered include:
- Understanding the nature of workplace conflict
- Identifying when internal workplace mediation is appropriate
- Developing the skills and behaviours needed to be a meditator
- Manage the mediation process effectively and confidently
- Evaluating mediation performance and outcomes.
View further details about the Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation