What is the Mediation Service?

The Mediation Service is a free, confidential and independent process that allows people to have their dispute heard and to be recognised. Mediation supports people in a 'dispute' attempt to find their own resolution to the problem.

The Service promotes early resolution of disputes which can; avoid working relationships from deteriorating further, enable people to get back to their normal day to day lives and reduce individual stress and strain. Mediation is future-focused and is concerned with how things will be from now on, rather than finding blame for how things have been in the past.

Mediation is voluntary and requires a level of commitment from all parties involved; crucially for mediation to work the parties must be willing and ready to address the problem.

It is an informal, confidential process and there is not normally a record kept of the discussions, unless all parties decide that there should be. Personal information that may be disclosed during the process is not shared with anyone else.

Parties are free to leave the mediation process at any stage should they wish to do so.

Who can use the Mediation Service?

The Mediation Service can be used to resolve disputes between any University staff members and between University staff and students. It is flexible and addresses a wide variety of relationships where formal routes are not always desirable or readily identifiable.

Although disputes are often between two people, mediation can also be used when a group of people are having difficulties working together - for example members of a team working together on a particular project, or a number of colleagues sharing workspace or returning to a team after long term sickness or leave.

The Mediation Service provides a valuable referral service to assist managers and supervisors in resolving matters swiftly and locally. The service is also accessible for self-referral.

How does it work?

Mediation aims to get the parties to identify the main issues of importance to them. It provides a forum for a constructive and safe exchange of information. Each party has the opportunity to express how the dispute has arisen, how it has affected them and respond to the other party’s concerns in a safe and impartial environment. It is an opportunity for all parties to put the substance of the conflict to the test.

Mediation will not prejudice any other form of action that may be taken to resolve a dispute. As it is confidential, details of the discussions held during the mediation meetings cannot normally be used as evidence in more formal procedures such as those under the Staff Grievance Procedure, Student Complaints Procedure and Acceptable Behaviour Policy.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediators are University of Bristol staff who have been fully trained in accredited mediation skills and techniques.

The role of the mediator is to be an independent, unbiased third party that facilitates discussion between the parties in dispute with a view to reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution. The mediator does not judge, offer solutions or provide advice, but guides the discussion to assist the parties to identify the key issues at dispute, which can often have become blurred.

What is the process?

The process begins with each party meeting with the Mediation Coordinator who will provide detailed information about how mediation works and what is expected of the individuals involved.

If both parties agree to participate in the mediation process, a Mediator will be appointed. The Mediator will contact each party individually and arrange a mutually convenient time for the mediation meeting.

What can it be used for?

Mediation is available for any kind of dispute between University staff members or University staff members and students. Even if the dispute is seemingly trivial, or conversely very complex, mediation can still be useful. 

In the context of the University, a 'dispute' may be an obvious disagreement over a specific issue, or alternatively it may be more general or on-going problems that would not necessary be easily described as a dispute. It may also be mixed-up with other issues such as concerns about performance or conduct. 

Some issues that arise through mediation might be very complex and involve legal or complicated procedural issues. In such situations mediation can still be a beneficial method to reach agreement.

Usually mediation will be available so long as all parties agree to it. A caveat to this is if the mediation may involve significant health and safety risks.

How does mediation fit with other staff support services?

Mediation compliments services that are already provided by Trade Unions, Human Resources and Counselling Services. It is hoped that any mediation undertaken will have a positive outcome for all the individuals concerned and others, enabling the University to learn from difficulties and create a more positive environment for all staff and students. Mediation may be used as part of the Staff Grievance Procedure, Student Complaints Procedure (PDF, 144kB)University Acceptable Behaviour Policy (PDF, 144kB) or as a separate informal process discrete from these formal processes.

Further information can be obtained from Philippa Guereca on extension 41820 or email (confidential mailbox). Please also contact Philippa confidentially if you want to use the service.