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Workplace Mediation

Mediation in Employment Rights/Unequal Treatment and Discrimination Claims

The mediation service affords employees appropriate access to its mediation service in circumstances where assistance is sought in respect of claims of infringements to employment rights; it also provides access to the general public in respect of claims involving unequal treatment and discrimination claims in the civil and public service. This form of mediation seeks to arrive at a solution through an agreement between the parties, rather than through an investigation or hearing or formal decision where a formal complaint has been lodged with the WRC for Adjudication.

Under Section 39* of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015, where a complaint has been made to the Adjudication Service (excluding any claims lodged under the Redundancy or Industrial Relations Acts) such claims may be selected for mediation by the Director General with a view to resolving issues without recourse to formal Adjudication proceedings.

*Section 39. (1) states: 

(a) Subject to paragraph (b), the Director General may, where he or she is of the opinion that a complaint or dispute is capable of being resolved without being referred to an adjudication officer under section 41, refer the complaint or dispute for resolution to a mediation officer.

 (b) The Director General shall not refer a complaint or dispute for resolution to a mediation officer if either of the parties to the complaint or dispute objects to its being so referred.

 Parties to such claims are encouraged to agree to engage in mediation, including at times by means of our phone based service, as well as our face-to-face interactive process. Such methods enable parties to engage with the process at the earliest possible opportunity in order to assist in the resolution of their disputes.

 Mediated settlements reached under the auspices of the WRC are confidential to the parties. Once a mediated settlement is agreed and signed by the parties it is enforceable in accordance with contract law.

 As previously stated, mediation can take the form of both telephone based conferences and /or face to face meetings in one of the WRC Offices or where possible to accommodate, in an alternative and/or suitable regional venue.

Why should you opt for mediation and what are the benefits?

CONFIDENTIAL PROCESSMediation is a completely voluntary and confidential process.  The Mediator will not disclose any information about the parties, the content of or the outcome of the Mediation to anyone not involved in the Mediation process.
SPEEDReaching a settlement through mediation is faster, and takes place as soon as schedules permit and parties agree to attend.
COSTMediation cuts the cost for both the complainant and respondent as it reduces the amount of time and expense associated with the more formal adjudication processes.
CONTROLThe outcome of the mediation process remains in the control of the parties therefore any agreement reached must be acceptable to both sides. Without taking sides the mediator will encourage the parties to come to an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved in the process.
IMPARTIALITYThe mediator is impartial and independent and does not take sides. The mediator will discuss the issues with both parties in order to help them reach a better understanding of each other's position and underlying interests.  
LEGALLY BINDINGThe Agreement reached through mediation is legally binding and can be enforced through the Courts.

How can you access Mediation?

STEP 1: When completing the online complaint form referring a complaint to the Adjudication Service, you need to select the option to avail of the mediation service.

STEP 2:  If the case is selected for mediation, the WRC will contact the respondent to see if they are willing to engage in mediation

STEP 3: If both parties agree to mediation the WRC will decide on the approach to be taken i.e. telephone mediation or Face to Face mediation.

STEP 4: In the case of telephone based mediation the mediator will contact the complainant and respondent. In the case of face to face mediation the WRC will contact the parties to arrange a mutually convenient date and location in order to facilitate meeting arrangements.

It is important to note that access to the Mediation Service for Employment Rights/Unequal Treatment and Discrimination cases is dependent on the submission of a formal complaint to the Adjudication Service.

 Mediation/Facilitation – Internal Workplace Issues

Workplace Mediation/Facilitation is provided on an ad hoc basis and delivered in a prompt, confidential and effective manner as an alternative remedy to workplace conflicts, disputes and disagreements.  It is particularly suited to disputes involving individuals or small groups of workers who find themselves dealing with situations which may involve the following:

  • Interpersonal differences, conflicts, difficulties in working together
  • Breakdown in a working relationship
  • Issues arising from a grievance and disciplinary procedure (particularly before a matter becomes a disciplinary issue)
  • Mediation is included as a voluntary stage in some grievance or dignity at work procedures and the WRC is nominated as the provider of a mediation service in some organisations. The WRC is available to discuss a similar arrangement with other public bodies or private companies.

How does Workplace Mediation work?

Mediation provides an opportunity for those involved to address the issues, explore options and reach a workable outcome through a mutually agreeable course of action.  The process is flexible and can be adapted depending on individual situations but essentially revolves around giving all parties concerned an opportunity to give their side of the story and to work with the other party to find a solution.

Some key principles governing the process include: -

  • It is voluntary – it can only take place on the basis that all parties are agreeable to participate.  Any party can withdraw at any stage of the process.
  • It is confidential – the process is private and confidential to the parties unless otherwise agreed.  This will give parties confidence to express exactly how they feel and confidence to explore solutions without prejudice.
  • It is fast
  • It is solution focused – the object of the exercise is to reach a workable and mutually agreeable solution to the conflict or issue of difference.
  • It is impartial – the mediator does not take sides.

What are the Benefits of Workplace Mediation?

  • It provides an opportunity to resolve a problem in an informal non-adversarial way.
  • The resolution of the issue remains in the control of the individuals directly concerned.
  • It creates a safe place for all sides to have their say and be heard.
  • It has the potential for a high success rate and positive outcomes where the parties are genuinely committed to a resolution.
  • Workplace mediation is cognisant of the future working relationships of those involved.

What happens if a dispute remains unresolved following mediation?

The service is focused on assisting parties to deal effectively with disputes that arise in the workplace. Participation in mediation does not oblige any party to commit to any further procedure in the event that the matter remains unresolved following mediation. The mediator will, in the event of non-resolution following mediation, assist the parties in agreeing a joint way forward.

How do I Apply for Mediation?

Applications for mediation should ideally be made on a joint basis. The process will work best when all parties have a desire for resolution and have jointly agreed that mediation is the best means to secure that resolution.

Notwithstanding this, the Commission will attempt to secure agreement to participate in mediation where only one party has sought the intervention. The process is however voluntary and the Commission is not in a position to compel attendance.

There are three ways to request the assistance of the Workplace Mediation Services:

  1. By writing to the Conciliation, Facilitation and Mediation Services, Workplace Relations Commission, Lansdowne House, Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4, D04 A3A8. or
  2. By using the online Mediation referral form
  3. By contacting mediation service team at mediation@workplacerelations.ie.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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