The main difference between employment mediation and workplace mediation is that an employment mediation will typically take place when the employee had already left or is about to leave employment, whereas workplace mediation takes place when a conflict has developed between two or more employees but the employment relationship is likely to continue and the aim is to improve a working relationship that is in crisis.  

It is possible that during the process a workplace mediation could turn into an employment mediation, if a party were to indicate a desire to terminate the employment relationship and seek to negotiate terms for settlement.

A workplace mediation is a staged process, usually starting with a background briefing by the employer, followed by individual meetings with the parties.  Often there will then be a break of a day or two, after which there will be a short further individual meeting with each party, followed by a joint meeting with all parties.  In some cases there may be a follow-up review to see how matters have progressed after a settlement has been reached.

In contrast, an employment mediation is usually much more commercially focused, and tends to lean towards negotiation. Lawyers will often be involved and the settlement will usually involve a settlement agreement.  To try to speed up the drafting of a settlement agreement after compensation has been agreed, it is advisable in an employment mediation for the employer to send their standard settlement agreement to the Claimant's solicitor prior to the mediation, so that the wording can be reviewed.  

Settlements at employment mediations often address:
  • the amount of compensation and the timing of the payment;
  • the wording of a reference and to whom requests for references should be addressed;
  • outplacement support;
  • the return of company property;
  • the agreed reason for the departure (often redundancy, restructure or resignation);
  • confidentiality of the settlement agreement;
  • mutual non-derogatory clauses; and
  • post-termination restrictions.
In workplace mediations there is more of a requirement to work with people's emotions.  It is often necessary to consider the potential cultural issues for the employer and the potential flaws in the organisation that may have contributed or led to the dispute.  Indications of workplace conflicts suitable for workplace mediation include:
  • long-term sickness caused by workplace stress;
  • harassment/bullying/personality clashes;
  • line managers not having the tools to identify and tackle problems early;
  • breakdowns in communication; and
  • higher than usual numbers of grievances, disciplinary meetings, appeals or tribunal claims.
In solving workplace disputes line managers can get more of their time back, absences are reduced, teamwork can be improved, customer service can be improved and the focus can be turned to productivity.