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New Acas guide champions mediation

Wednesday 17 September 2008

The 190,000 individual employment tribunal claims in 2007/2008 could have been reduced by more effective use of workplace mediation according to a new guide from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Acas.

pdf icon Mediation: An approach to resolving workplace issues [1Mb] offers a unique insight into an employers' experience of mediation. It draws on a comprehensive survey of CIPD members, a GfK NOP commissioned survey of 500 small/medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and a series of in-depth case studies with companies with up and running mediation schemes.

According to the survey of SMEs, the respondent organisations that use the mediation process indicated that it is successful: almost half said that the last mediation had resolved the issue completely (49%), and more than four in five (82%) said it had resolved the issues either completely or partly.

Mike Emmott, Employee Relations Adviser, CIPD says:

"Gaining the commitment of senior managers to mediation is key to ensuring that line managers buy into the process and promote its use as an informal mechanism to resolve disputes. The way in which mediation arrangements are introduced and embedded within an organisation is crucial to ensuring effectiveness in resolving internal conflict.

"Policy-makers and organisations are increasingly recognising that mediation has a particular resonance in the workplace. Negative conflict between individuals or groups of individuals can severely hamper an organisation's drive for competitive advantage and damage employee well-being.

"The advantage of using an informal approach means there is greater flexibility in how it is used to suit specific circumstances, and the confidentiality of the process can offer a breathing space that allows more open and honest discussion."

According to the survey of CIPD members, in only 16% of cases was mediation said to follow an actual or threatened tribunal claim, but those that utilised it reaped the rewards – in 9% of instances a claim was withdrawn*. This suggests that, in the majority of cases where mediation is used, it is effective in resolving issues that would otherwise have had to be resolved in a tribunal.

Professor John Purcell, Acas' Strategic Academic Adviser:

"Acas has long promoted the benefits of mediation. The cost of conflict at work is significant – to all parties involved, and to the reputation of the organisation as a whole. Mediation can provide an informal route to resolving difficulties, finding lasting solutions and at the same time avoiding costly tribunals. This guide, developed in partnership with the CIPD, provides detailed information to organisations interested in exploring the mediation option. Especially useful are the insights in the guide, gathered from a range of organisations with experience of setting up mediation arrangements from scratch. I commend the guide to HR experts, managers, and employees."

Among the case study organisations taking part in the research are:

  • The Ministry of Justice
  • The University of Central Lancashire
  • West Midlands Police
  • A joint venture between Suffolk County Council and BT

* Figures exclude conciliation provided by Acas in employment tribunal cases

Notes to editors

Mike Emmott and John Purcell are available for interview

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has over 130,000 members and is the leading professional institute for those involved in the management and development of people.

Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members.

The guide is available to download on our Disputes and Mediation page.

CIPD Press Enquiries

Gregor Ridley / Christian Zarro / Jemma Walsh

Tel: 020 8612 6400


Acas Press enquiries

Lou Owen
Tel: 020 7210 3920/07900 406992