Workplace mediation

What is workplace mediation?

Workplace mediation is a voluntary process that aims to resolve workplace disputes and disagreements, particularly between individuals or small groups.

The Workplace Relations Commission provides a Mediation Service. It is a confidential service that gives employees and employers in dispute, a chance to work with a mediator to find a mutually agreed solution to the problem.

A mediator is a trained professional who will not make any decisions, but help both parties understand each other.

Workplace mediation is voluntary and both sides must agree to participate and to work towards a solution to the problem.

If no agreed solution is reached, other ways of resolving the issues have to be used, such as formal adjudication.

Why use mediation?

Workplace mediation allows a problem to be resolved informally, by making sure that all the sides are heard.

Generally, reaching an agreement through mediation is quicker, cheaper, and less stressful for everyone involved than formal adjudication or other third-party processes.

As both parties work together to solve the problem, the resolution is in their control. Where both you and your employer are committed to a mutually agreed solution it is likely to be more effective and last longer.

The agreement reached through mediation is legally binding. This means it can be enforced through the courts.

Mediation is used before the issue is referred for formal adjudication or other third-party processes.

Principles of mediation

The Mediation Service works on the following principles:

  • It is a voluntary process; all parties must agree to participate.
  • Either party can withdraw from the process at any stage.
  • The process is confidential unless the parties agree otherwise.
  • It is fast and starts as soon as everyone is available.
  • The mediator is impartial.
  • Its focus is to find a solution to the dispute which is agreeable to all parties and which will work.

The process aims to allow each person involved in the dispute the chance to be heard and to work with the other party to reach a solution.

It is a flexible process that can include joint meetings or meetings with the mediator alone, depending on the situation.

Mediation services available

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) provides the following mediation services:

  • Mediation in employment rights or unequal treatment and discrimination claims
  • Mediation or facilitation of internal workplace issues

Employment rights, unequal treatment and discrimination claims

You can use the mediation service if you feel your employment rights have been violated. The option of using the mediation service is available to you on the WRC online complaint form. Both parties can arrive at a solution through agreement rather than through an investigation or hearing or formal decision.

In certain cases, you may be offered the Early Resolution Service (ERS) which is part of the Mediation Service. If both parties are agreeable, a representative from the ERS contacts them by phone to resolve the dispute through mediation.

Members of the public can also use mediation to get help with cases related to unequal treatment or discrimination in public services.

Internal workplace issues

If you are experiencing an internal workplace issue, mediation is available to help fix workplace conflicts informally.

The type of situations that are dealt with by the Mediation Service include:

  • Personal differences or people having problems working together
  • Breakdown of working relationships
  • Issues arising from a grievance and disciplinary procedure
  • Industrial relations issues that have not been referred through statutory dispute resolution processes

How to apply for mediation

Ideally, you apply for mediation together with the other party. The process works best when all parties have agreed that mediation is the best way to resolve the problem.

You can request the assistance of the Workplace Mediation Services in the following ways:

What happens during mediation?

The WRC decides on the best approach to be taken – telephone mediation or face-to-face mediation.

Telephone mediation

The WRC can decide if the issue is suitable for telephone mediation.

The mediator contacts the employer to see if they are willing to engage. If they agree, the mediator consults with the parties separately by telephone or email to try and help them reach a resolution.

Conversations are confidential and the parties decide what the mediator can and cannot share with the other side.

In-person mediation

Sometimes talks about a complaint are more suited to a face-to-face process.

The WRC provides in-person mediation in:

  • Equality cases
  • More complex employment rights cases like unfair dismissal
  • Cases where the parties agree in-person meetings are more appropriate

Face-to-face mediation involves a series of meetings that take place on the same day.

The mediator talks separately with each party. This allows the mediator to:

  • Discuss the issues confidentially with each side
  • Explore possible solutions without prejudice to anybody’s position. This means without negatively affecting either side

The mediator may later invite the parties to meet, for a discussion facilitated by the mediator.

All information shared in both separate and joint talks is confidential and will not be shared with the other party unless this is agreed.

Mediation outcomes

You reach agreement

If you reach an agreement, the mediator writes up the terms of a draft agreement. Once both parties are happy with the draft, a final version is given to each side to sign.

The final agreement is legally binding and confidential.

You don’t reach an agreement

If no agreed solution is reached, other ways of resolving the issues have to be used. The mediator can help the participants decide how best to proceed. You can read more about employment rights enforcement.

More information

You can get detailed information about workplace mediation and what the process involves in the WRC Pre-Adjudication Mediation FAQs (pdf).

Workplace Relations Commission - Conciliation and Mediation Services

Lansdowne House
Lansdowne Road
Dublin 4
D04 A3A8

Tel: (01) 613 6700
Locall: 0818 80 80 90
Fax: (01) 613 6701
Page edited: 31 August 2023