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 the problem in a timely and cost-effective manner.
The Public Service Staffing Tribunal's mediation services are similar to those of other tribunals or labour boards and follow the same basic steps:
Generally, the "parties" in a mediation session at the Tribunal are the complainant and the manager who conducted the appointment process. Each party may be accompanied by a representative.
All complaints submitted to the Tribunal are referred automatically to mediation unless one of the parties does not wish to participate.
The Tribunal offers its mediation services at any stage of the complaint process. In other words, one of the parties may opt out of mediation early on in the process, but may ask the Tribunal to mediate the complaint at a later stage of the proceedings. In order for mediation to take place, however, both parties must agree to participate.
It is important to note that participation in mediation does not suspend time frames stipulated in the PSST Regulations for the formal hearing process.
PSST mediators are members or employees of the Tribunal. A member who has conducted a mediation session where no agreement has been reached will not be assigned to hear the complaint when it goes to a hearing.
A chance for the mediator to get to know each of the parties, explain the process and gain an understanding of the issues.
Mediation is not subject to the same procedural requirements and time frames as a formal hearing. With the help of the mediator, the parties set the tone of the mediation session and organize their time in a way that meets everyone's needs.
Some of the costs associated with a formal hearing process are avoided or reduced by using mediation - travel expenses for witnesses, for example.
All of the information divulged during mediation is treated as confidential and can be released in certain, limited circumstances only.
In working through the issues and generating a number of ideas, the parties are often able to reach a solution that is more creative, or simply not available, through the formal process of a hearing.
The focus of mediation is to help the parties find a solution by providing them a forum to examine their interests and possible options in a constructive manner and, in this way, build a better working relationship between them.
With the help of the mediator, the parties themselves determine both the flow and the outcome of the process, and are therefore more likely to be satisfied with the process as a whole, and the results, in particular.