What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process that promotes open and respectful communication with the assistance of a neutral and impartial third party: the mediator. Mediation allows the parties in a dispute to examine their interests and concerns, explore a variety of creative options, and develop mutually satisfactory solutions to problems in a timely and cost-effective manner. With the mediator’s help, the parties determine the outcome and are more likely to be satisfied with the process and the results.
The Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) team offers professional assistance to help employers and employees voluntarily resolve their disputes and find their own solutions to their workplace conflicts. The MDRS team also delivers training on subjects such as mediation and interest-based bargaining.
Mediators of the FPSLREB Secretariat’s MDRS team have extensive experience in working with public service employers and bargaining agents. They are recognized for their professionalism and the quality of their work in resolving public-sector labour relations, staffing, and collective bargaining disputes. Our mediators are dedicated to providing professional impartial third-party assistance in accordance with the Standards of Practice.
Mediator’s and Parties’ Role
- be impartial;
- deal respectfully with all mediation participants;
- meet with the parties and their representatives separately, in person or by phone, prior to mediation to discuss their perspectives (pre-mediation);
- answer any questions at pre-mediation that the participants may have about mediation;
- explain the mediation process;
- ensure that the Agreement to Mediate is signed by all participants prior to the commencement of mediation;
- establish, in consultation with the parties, the ground rules for mediation;
- help everyone listen, communicate and stay focused on the mediation process;
- help the parties to focus on the future, rather than the past, and on interests, rather than on positions;
- encourage the parties to consider each other's perspective;
- help the parties to identify the important issues;
- guide the parties in exploring their respective interests and needs;
- support the parties in their development of viable options and assessing the various options in light of objective criteria (laws, precedents, etc.);
- protect the confidentiality of the mediation process, subject to any applicable law;
- help the parties in doing a “reality check” concerning the respective strengths and weaknesses of their case.
The Role of the Mediator is NOT to :
- take sides;
- act as a lawyer or advocate for either party;
- tell the parties what the issues are between them;
- take responsibility for the issues;
- solve the issues;
- make decisions for the parties;
- offer his or her opinion on the likely outcome if the case is not settled in mediation and proceeds to hearing;
- give advice on the legal implications of any settlement reached by the parties;
- draft the Terms of Settlement;
- give advice on the legal implications of the Terms of Settlement.
- think about the key issues as you see them and as the other party may see them;
- consider your interests (concerns, hopes, fears, desires, expectations, etc.) and needs and what the other party’s interests and needs may be;
- identify possible solutions that might satisfy your interests and those of the other party;
- ensure that you have the necessary authority to settle;
- prepare opening remarks explaining your perspective on the issues and your general objectives for mediation;
- consider your alternatives should mediation not result in an agreement; and
- try to understand the other party’s perspective.
- review and sign the “Agreement to Mediate”;
- ensure that you have the necessary authority to settle;
- participate in good faith;
- communicate openly and honestly;
- if in doubt, ask questions;
- contribute actively to generating options;
- assess the options, to make an informed decision; and
- when a settlement is reached, draft the “Terms of Settlement” and sign them.
After the mediation
implement the Terms of Settlement.
Mediation has a greater chance of success when the parties
- prepare and participate actively in the process;
- genuinely listen in an effort to understand the other's point of view;
- express themselves openly yet respectfully;
- are more concerned with resolving the issue than with laying blame or winning; and,
- are fully authorized to settle or have ready access to the necessary authority.
The MDRS team is dedicated to providing impartial third-party assistance to help parties resolve disputes to their mutual satisfaction.
Access to Mediation
How to access grievance and complaint mediation
- When a grievance or complaint is referred to the FPSLREB, a letter is sent to the parties to ask if they wish to participate in mediation.
- If the parties agree to mediation, they forward their contact persons’ information to the FPSLREB Secretariat, and the file is referred to the Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) team.
- A mediator is appointed.
- The mediator contacts the parties to identify mediation dates and start preparing for the mediation.
- Once mediation dates are identified, the FPSLREB Secretariat takes care of logistics, such as reserving mediation rooms.
- It is important to note that in the context of a staffing complaint, participation in mediation does not suspend the time frames stipulated in the Public Service Staffing Complaints Regulations for the formal hearing process.
- In exceptional circumstances, the MDRS team offers preventative mediation services for cases that have not yet been referred to adjudication at the Board. Inquiries should be directed to the MDRS team.
How to access mediation during collective bargaining
When the parties reach a point in their face-to-face negotiations at which it is increasingly difficult to make progress, either party (or both) may choose to request the services of a mediator. Representatives of parties wishing to request mediation services for collective bargaining should consult the MDRS. For more information, please visit our collective bargaining section.
Standards of Practice
The mediation process enables parties to have an open and respectful discussion to resolve their dispute with the help of a neutral and impartial third party: a mediator.
Mediators are dispute resolution professionals who use their knowledge, experience and skills to help parties resolve disputes. At the FPSLREB Secretariat, mediators are committed to fulfilling their mission to serve their clients in a fair, courteous, and respectful manner, in accordance with the fundamental principles1 outlined below.
- The parties decide for themselves when and under what conditions they will reach an agreement, free of coercion.
- The parties have the necessary authority and are capable of making an informed decision to reach a voluntary agreement; the mediator may recommend that parties consult with professionals to ensure informed decision making.
- The parties’ self-determination applies throughout the mediation process, which means that the parties are free to withdraw from the process at any time.
- Mediators must manage an impartial mediation process by conducting themselves in an unbiased manner.
- Mediators suspend their judgment and demonstrate no favouritism.
- If a mediator is not able to remain impartial and fair throughout the process, they must withdraw from the process.
3. Conflict of interest
- Mediators are responsible for identifying and disclosing all actual and potential conflicts of interest.
- A conflict of interest is a situation in which a mediator has or may have conflicting professional or personal interests, making it difficult for the mediator to carry out their tasks impartially.
- Even though there may be no evidence of actual prejudicial conduct, a conflict of interest can create an appearance of bias that can undermine one or both of the parties’ confidence that the mediator can be effective in the mediation process.
- If the parties agree to participate in the mediation after being informed of an actual or perceived conflict of interest, the mediator may proceed with the mediation.
- If the conflict of interest casts serious doubt on the integrity of the process, or if the mediator feels that he or she is unable to proceed impartially, then the mediator must withdraw from the process.
- Mediators shall ensure that all information obtained during mediation remains confidential, unless:
- the parties provide permission and instructions about its disclosure;
- its disclosure is required by law; or,
- there is a real or potential threat to a person’s safety or life if the information is not disclosed.
- Confidentiality applies to all information received during individual meetings.
- At the end of the mediation process, mediators should discuss with the parties the disclosure terms for information that was shared during the mediation process, if appropriate.
5. Quality of Process
- Mediators are required to lead the mediation process professionally and diligently, in accordance with all of the fundamental guiding principles outlined above.
- Correspondence with clients about mediation must be accurate.
- Mediators assigned to cases must have the necessary training, experience, and skills.
- Mediators must encourage mutual respect between the parties and provide them with adequate opportunities to participate in the discussions as each party sees fit.
- Mediators are required to improve their mediation practice as well as their professional skills and abilities.
- Mediators should raise awareness about mediation, enhancing its accessibility.
1 These principles are inspired by the standards of practice of the American Bar Association; the Association for Conflict Resolution; le Barreau du Québec; the ADR Institute of Canada; and l’Institut de médiation et d’arbitrage du Québec.
The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board offers a two-and-a-half-day course on participating in mediation for those involved in labour relations and staffing matters in the federal public sector.
This interactive and engaging course imparts basic skills in mediation and interest-based negotiation, allowing participants to apply negotiation techniques in the context labour relations disputes and staffing complaint processes. The focus is on preparing parties for mediation and not on training people to become mediators.
For more information, click here.