Mediation and Arbitration

Solve a workplace dispute - mediation, conciliation and arbitration

You can get help from a third-party to solve disputes between you and you employer. The main ways you can do this are through:

  • Mediation
  • Conciliation
  • Arbitration


Mediation is when an independent and impartial third party discusses a problem with you and your employer (or between you and another employee) to try and find a solution. It’s often used after informal discussions haven’t come up with a solution.

Mediation is voluntary and the mediator can’t force you or your employer to accept a solution. Both you and your employer must agree on the way to solve the dispute.

Mediation shouldn’t be used to solve problems that have to be formally investigated (eg harassment or discrimination).

You can also find a mediation service on the Civil Mediation Council website.

Read the Acas guide on mediation for more information.

Why use mediation?

  • Mediation is usually much more cost effective and quicker to the user than going to court.  It is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations.
  • Mediation allows the participants to control risk as it enables participants to come up with their own practical solution which can benefit all sides, as outcomes are not confined to the limited options available to a judge.
  • In appropriate situations, mediation allows people to rebuild relationships as they work together to find an agreement.
  • Mediation is also an excellent preventative tool and can be used effectively to stop problems escalating and becoming worse.
  • Mediation can also be used to help parties conclude contract and business negotiations generally.

Oxford Mediation

Oxford Mediation is a local network of independent commercial and workplace mediators whose expertise enables businesses to manage internal and external conflicts at a fraction of the costs of court proceedings and often with very much more positive outcomes.

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which an impartial third party (the mediator) helps people in dispute to find a mutually acceptable resolution. 

Mediation can be conducted on a face-to-face basis in joint and private meetings, or over the telephone.

The mediators at Oxford Mediation are passionate about the benefits of mediation and are happy to talk about mediation and how it could work for your business – please find contact details on their website.


Conciliation is similar to mediation but is normally used when:

  • you believe you may be entitled to make a claim to an employment tribunal
  • you have already made a claim to an employment tribunal

Conciliation is voluntary - both you and your employer must agree to it before it happens.

Acas can offer a free service to help to settle a claim or potential claim.

Read the Acas guide on conciliation for more information.


Arbitration is when a third-party makes a firm decision on a case after considering all the issues.

You and your employer must agree to an arbitrator’s decision being legally binding. If you don’t agree, you can still take a case to an employment tribunal.

Read the Acas guide on arbitration for more information.