Mediation is used in a multitude of different areas, and commonly in employment law. It is a voluntary form of dispute resolution that aims to facilitate conversation between parties to reach an agreement. Mediation is flexible, as it is not restrained by legal rules and processes and the parties are free to agree or disagree. The major benefit of mediation is the ability to resolve disputes outside of court and to preserve relationships if possible. It is also more cost-effective and timely than a court case.
The mediator is a chosen independent and impartial party. The mediator’s role is to guide and monitor conversation. The mediator aims to clarify issues to be discussed and keep the conversation focused on discussing and resolving these issues. Often, the mediator will help extract relevant information and navigate options with parties. Ultimately, the mediator is not a decision-maker, but a facilitator – authority is with the parties involved.
There is no strict preparation needed for mediation. However, it is helpful to know the facts of your dispute and note down what you want to refer to throughout. Note evidence to support your contention. It is also helpful to know what outcome you are looking for, but you should attend mediation as openly as possible to work with the other party to find an outcome. It is also possible to have an advisor or representative present. This could be a family member, a friend, or a lawyer. From an employment law perspective, a lawyer can be helpful as they are a party instructed by you and will have your objective in mind.
The disputing parties are often brought together to make exchanges across the table. The grievant will speak first, then the other party. Sometimes there will be an exchange across the table that the mediator will regulate. The parties will then retire to separate rooms and offers will be brought by the mediator to each party. If an agreement is met, a record of settlement will be drawn up. Once this is signed, it is legally binding on both parties. Even if agreement is not reached, mediation is helpful as it clarifies the issues between parties.
Once the record of settlement is signed, the agreement is legally binding. Although the mediator is not a decision-maker, the parties can agree to a binding decision from the mediator, the parties can also agree to a process where the mediator makes a recommendation.
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