In a newly published document entitled "Mediation: A guide for trade union representatives", ACAS and the TUC provide guidance in relation to the use of mediation in workplace disputes, with a view to raising awareness amongst trade union representatives of the benefits of mediation.
The guide suggests that mediation can complement trade union representation, rather than replacing or undermining it, and highlights the benefits of mediation, including confidentiality, the avoidance of unnecessary grievance procedures and tribunal claims, the opportunity to maintain the employment relationship and the flexibility of outcomes when mediation is used. The guide also sets out several circumstances to which the use of mediation may be particularly well suited, such as relationship breakdown or personality clashes, perceived bullying and harassment or discrimination issues, situations where managers may not be well placed to tackle an issue due to perceived bias, or where negotiations between unions and management have broken down.
The guide also outlines how trade union representatives can assist with the mediation process. It explains that employers should consult trade unions in relation to any plans to introduce mediation schemes, and gives guidance in relation both to how such schemes may impact on existing collective agreements, and how representatives should provide support to members of the mediation process where required. Interestingly, considering its authorship, the guide emphasises that mediations are most successful when trade union representatives are not present. It also states that due to the confidential nature of the mediation process, trade union representatives should only be informed about the fact that mediation is taking place, its details, and that it has taken place with the express permission of the parties involved.