Need To Know: Confidentiality Of Workplace Mediation

Need To Know: Confidentiality Of Workplace Mediation

Posted On May 30, 2022,

This article is for you if you are a manager considering hiring a mediator or a workplace party to participate in workplace mediation. Knowing about the confidentiality of the workplace mediation process helps you understand what to expect from the mediation process.

Is workplace mediation confidential?

Workplace parties involved in a workplace mediation typically have a good reason to want their privacy respected. Since mediators generally are hired by the company to work with the parties who are both employees, mediations are not secret. The employer and at least some members of management will know they are occurring. As a mediator, I usually work with the human resources department to keep the circle of people who understand that mediation is happening as tight as possible. Mediators may need to know about conciliation based on the organization's policies and whether the participants are unionized.

What information gets shared during a workplace mediation?

Well, mediators may differ with precisely what information they are willing to mandate be shared with the employer at Wakely Mediation. After the mediation, the parties should decide what substantive information is shared with the employer. During the mediation, the mediator keeps the employer's contact apprised of scheduled meetings and the parties' attendance.

Does the employer get to know what is said during mediation?

The employer does not find out what it said during mediation. The parties to the mediation agree at the outset about confidentiality. In our workplace mediation agreement, the employer agreed to respect his privacy at the beginning. Typically, parties who resolve to agree to share some or all of the plan with the company. One of the jobs of the mediator is working with the parties to agree on how their progress on the issue should be described and who should make the company aware.

Sometimes the party was a generic high-level message shared by the mediator, and sometimes the parties asked the mediator to facilitate a conversation with organizational leadership. One of the reasons mediation is so effective is because it gives the parties involved in the conflict control over the conflict. Removing managers and HR staff from the process and working with a workplace mediator helps the parties understand that the process is a way of resolving the conflict, not furthering it by presenting their "evidence" to decision-makers.

Does the confidentiality of workplace mediation bind our support people?

Sometimes mediation participants will be entitled to bring support people into a workplace mediation. This can be because of workplace policies, collective agreements, or the duty to require it. Generally, participants are bound by confidentiality. In my practice, I ask support people and union representatives to sign confidentiality agreements.

Is there anyone who can't act as a support person due to confidentiality?

Generally, leaders who may be called to deal with further interpersonal issues and have decision-making authority should be excluded. They are usually the people whom participants want to keep information from. Aside from taking the value away from confidentiality, having decision-makers attend can risk the mediation turning into a power-based process.

There are exceptions to this. For example, workplace mediation to support human rights accommodations frequently includes decision-makers. Part of the mediator's job is to ensure that the people attending to support the process will do so and that their presence won't hurt the process.

Workplace mediation is a good option for solving problems quickly and discretely. In addition, the confidentiality of workplace mediation can give participants the peace of mind to participate in an interest-based process. If you want to learn more about how workplace mediation can help your organization deal with interpersonal conflict, harassment investigation postvention, or team discord, contact us for a no-obligation conversation.

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