The Board's Mediation Framework is a potential option for employees in dispute. An informal approach, such as mediation, can provide greater flexibility to suit specific circumstances. The confidential nature of the process can offer a pause and a safe environment to facilitate more open and honest discussion. However it is important to consider if it is always the most appropriate option. The following lists are examples and not exhaustive.
Mediation may be appropriate:
• To address a range of issues, including relationship breakdown, personality clashes or communication problems;
• To resolve conflict involving colleagues of a similar job or grade, or between a line manager and a member of their team;
• To help re-establish working relationships after a formal dispute has been resolved / formal procedure completed;
• Where an ongoing professional working relationship is required / or there is a requirement to act cooperatively;
• Where there are questions over fairness and reasonableness;
• Where it is in the interest of both parties to resolve a situation without recourse to the Grievance Procedure.
Mediation is not appropriate:
• As a first resort – because people should be encouraged to speak to each other and talk to their manager before they seek a solution via mediation;
• To address issues of Bullying, Harassment and/or Victimisation. These issues are dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy & Procedure or, if evidence is unclear, they are investigated by a Joint Investigation Panel and the issue may then, depending on findings, proceed to the Disciplinary Policy & Procedure;
• Where a decision about right or wrong is needed, for example where there is possible criminal activity;
• Where there is an unbridgeable imbalance of power;
• Where the individual bringing a discrimination case wants it investigated;
• Where someone has learning difficulties or mental health problems (the party may be permitted to have someone to attend in an “advocacy” capacity –if agreed, the latter would only be permitted into the mediation if they signed a confidentiality agreement;
• Where the parties do not have the power to settle the issue;
• Where one side is completely intransigent and using mediation will only raise unrealistic expectations of a positive outcome.
Documentation/Information and Record Keeping
It is imperative that documentation is kept up to date and that accurate records are made of all meetings and relevant discussions. To this end the standard documentation templates must be utilised.
Standard Correspondence and Documentation
A suite of templates letters have been developed to support the effective application of the Dignity at Work Policy with regards bullying, harassment and victimisation situations. These have been drafted to cover a range of scenarios in relation to claims or counter claims of breaches of dignity. If managers are in any doubt in which template(s) to use please contact HR Support and Advice Unit.