Workplace Mediation

Workplace mediation is a process which usually involves a dispute between individuals, or an individual and management of an organisation. It aims to bring the parties together to resolve the issues that are in dispute. It is a voluntary and confidential process, with the parties controlling the outcome. Workplace mediators assist parties to reach fair and workable agreements that are consistent with the employer’s policies as well as relevant legislation. All parties are advised that mediation is a voluntary, non adversarial approach, and thus Positive Solutions does not provide reports for legal, insurance or tribunal matters.

Mediators

All Positive Solutions conflict resolution staff  have qualifications and experience in mediation, legal and / or counselling areas. Either one or two mediators can be assigned to a case, and in the latter situation a balance of gender and professional background may be provided. 

Management Role

While management may not be a party to a workplace dispute, they have an interest in the outcome. Management  may therefore wish to provide initial input on a confidential basis for the information of the mediator. Management may also request that written  draft  agreements  be  provided to the employer for comment and feedback prior to finalisation. However the full detail of what is discussed in the mediation process remains confidential to the parties involved in the dispute. Parties are advised that a written and / or oral report in relation to the process, but not the content of the mediation may be provided to their employer and / or referring agent. If a written agreement is reached, with the parties’ consent this will be provided to their employer and / or referrer.

Referral Process 

Referrals to Positive Solutions for workplace mediation  are usually  initiated by the employer / manager. The parties to the mediation must voluntarily agree to participate and they also have the freedom to withdraw from, or suspend the process at any time if necessary.

Where mental health issues appear to be a concern, Positive Solutions and the client will need to determine whether it is appropriate to proceed. It is important to ensure that there is minimal  risk of psychological injury or potential for harm to self or others through participation in the mediation process (e.g. if workplace bullying is alleged). If a worker has full or partial medical incapacity for work, medical endorsement for mediation must be obtained before they participate in a mediated process.

Legal and Industrial Issues

Positive Solutions Mediators do not provide legal or industrial advice. Mediators are experienced in psycho social aspects of work place issues and remain objective at all times. If the parties need to obtain advice regarding organisational policy or relevant legislation, they will need to seek this independently and may need to request time out from the mediation  process in order to enable them to do so. Mediators may refer clients to the Fair Work Ombudsman or to Human Resource consultants for this advice.

Where issues are identified as primarily of an industrial (e.g. conditions of service) or performance management (e.g. code of conduct) nature, this may need to be discussed with the referrer to ensure that the most appropriate means of addressing the situation is identified.

Pre-mediation interviews 

Initial confidential  interviews are conducted individually with the referrer and the respective  parties to the dispute for the purpose of obtaining information about issues, history, and context . A decision about how and whether to proceed with mediation is made by the mediator and the employer is advised accordingly.

Mediation Session(s)

If it is appropriate to proceed to a joint session the mediator will assist the parties to collaboratively identify the issues that are in dispute; discuss options for how each issue can be resolved; and then determine which options best meet their needs. When options are agreed by the parties to the dispute they are noted by the mediator for inclusion in the mediation agreement which is provided to management for feedback and subsequent endorsement.

Outcome

At the conclusion of the mediation process a written record of any agreement reached can be provided. Because mediators assist the parties to reach agreements that are consistent with organisational policies and legislation, some input from the employer prior to finalisation of the agreement may be appropriate to ensure that the arrangements are workable.

While the mediator facilitates the process it is ultimately the responsibility of the parties to reach agreement. If no agreement is reached then management will be advised accordingly, but the details of the mediation remain confidential.

Feedback may also be given to management about possible changes to workplace policies, practices or procedures if strategies are identified which may help to avoid future disputes. Referral to Human Resource consultants is appropriate when managers need assistance in revising policies and procedures.

Cost

The Work Place Mediation fee is charged at an hourly rate, to be agreed at the outset. If the mediation occurs in the workplace travel may also be charged at the applicable hourly rate. Fees are set out in the Positive Solutions Fee Schedule.

Co mediation, where two mediators are involved, may be appropriate in some interview situations such as where there is a high level of complexity (e.g. shuttle mediation), a high risk, or a large number of participants. The referrer is to be consulted whenever the use of two mediators is identified as necessary for a session or sessions.

Location

Work place mediations can be conducted at Positive Solutions regional offices, or in the workplace if appropriate.

 

 

Copyright 2017. Positive Solutions: Mediation and Counseling