What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
ADR is any method of dispute resolution other than formal adjudication. These methods are non-adversarial in nature and include mediation (the most common method), conciliation, and facilitation, to name a few. Participation in ADR is usually voluntary.

Why should I use ADR?
ADR provides an opportunity for quick, win-win resolution of workplace disputes in a non-confrontational manner. The techniques available through ADR are designed to preserve and rebuild workplace relationships, which, over time, improve the workplace environment for everyone. In some cases, it allows for early intervention into issues which, if unaddressed, may inappropriately make their way to grievance, misconduct procedures or even the CCMA.

How does ADR work?
An employee, including supervisors and managers, can contact the ADR Unit to see if their workplace dispute would be appropriate for ADR. Issues such as theft, fraud, assault, sexual abuse or any other criminal activity are not suitable for ADR. If the workplace dispute is appropriate for ADR, the ADR Unit will contact the second party to the dispute, discuss the issues, and determine which ADR resolution technique might help the parties reach resolution of the conflict. At this point, if both parties agree to participate in ADR, a meeting with a neutral third party would be scheduled (this may be a mediation, conciliation, etc.). The third party would then assist the parties in exploring possible resolutions of the conflict. In most cases, if a resolution is reached, the third party would assist in drafting this resolution as an agreement.

All grievances and misconduct matters are also referred to the ADR Unit by the Employee Relations Unit to ascertain if ADR is suitable and to advise the parties accordingly. If ADR is not suitable or parties do not agree then the normal grievance and misconduct procedures continue.

It is preferable however for the parties to contact the ADR Unit before lodging formal procedures. This generally helps with an earlier resolution of the dispute.

How long does ADR take?
Generally, ADR is designed to address workplace disputes quickly. Depending on the type of workplace conflict and the number of parties involved, a third party can be scheduled to meet with one or more parties within a weeks after the initial contact by the employee initiating ADR.

Can I try ADR before filing a grievance?
Yes. ADR can be used by employees prior to lodging a grievance. In fact, by requesting ADR, an employee does not waive any rights, should there be no mutually satisfactory resolution of the conflict, to pursue a grievance. The usual grievance time frames may be held in abeyance by mutual agreement of the parties.

Can I try ADR after filing a grievance?
Yes. ADR is used as a way to resolve a workplace issue already being pursued through grievance. If you lodge a grievance, the ER Unit will normally send it through to the ADR Unit. If your dispute is suitable for ADR, the ADR Unit will contact you. In such cases the normal grievance time frames may be modified or held in abeyance by mutual agreement of the parties.

What are the differences between the various ADR techniques?
Mediation is a process, guided by a trained neutral third party (mediator) who has no decision making authority, to assist the parties in resolving a conflict. The objective of mediation is to provide a "safe" environment for the parties to explore their own resolutions to a conflict together. Mediators use appropriate techniques and/or skills to open and/or improve dialogue between disputants. Normally, all parties must view the mediator as impartial. Generally, when resolution(s) is agreed to, it is documented through an agreement signed by all parties. If the mediation does not result in agreement, the mediator will not testify on behalf of either party in the event the dispute is adjudicated through another forum. There will be no "debriefing" of the mediator by ELR staff. The mediator will destroy any notes taken during the mediation before leaving the mediation.

Conciliation is a technique generally used one-on-one, to assist parties to improve communication, clarify mis-perceptions, deal with strong emotions, and build trust for day-to-day work activities. Unlike mediation. the parties have little direct interaction and this technique may or may not yield a signed agreement.

Facilitation is the use of techniques to improve the flow of information in a meeting between parties to a dispute. This technique is commonly applied to decision making meetings where a specific outcome is desired or where there are a large number of participants. Generally, the circumstances in which this technique is used does not result in a signed agreement.

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), where the parties to a dispute refer it to a person by whose decision (the "award") they agree to be bound. It is a settlement technique in which a third party reviews the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding for both sides by prior mutual agreement to be bound.

When should ADR be used?
ADR should be attempted when there is a chance for each party in a dispute to have a positive outcome. There are some issues/situations which would not be appropriate for ADR, including physical assault, for example. Generally, the earlier ADR is applied to a situation, the better; before individual positions have hardened.

Will the information shared in the ADR process be confidential?
Yes. The information shared with the ADR Manager and ADR Officer is confidential. Likewise, information shared with a neutral third party during ADR is also confidential. A neutral third party may not testify on behalf of either party in the event the dispute is adjudicated through another forum at the University.

What is the first step in the ADR process?
The process begins with the initial contact by an employee or manager asking for ADR services. The information gathered during this stage helps the ADR Manager or Officer to determine whether the conflict/dispute is appropriate for ADR and, if so, to determine which ADR technique to utilise to help the parties reach resolution.

The ADR Manager or Officer will gather the necessary information from the parties and adequately explain ADR techniques that may be appropriate to apply to the dispute/conflict. The ADR Manager then appoints a neutral ADR Consultant to conduct the agreed process ie mediation, conciliation, facilitation or arbitration. Consultants are chosen from a panel
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