Information on Mediation and the ETBI Network of
Trained Contact Persons in ETBs
Revised Policies for Dealing with complaints of bullying and harassment/sexual harassment
A revision of Education and Training Board (ETB) policies in the area of bullying and harassment/sexual harassment prevention was undertaken on a partnership basis and agreed by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) and trade unions representing staff in the education and training board sector including AHCPS, ASTI, IMPACT, SIPTU, TUI, UNITE and unions represented by the CDETB Trade Union Group. INTO are currently in discussions at national level with the Forum also.
- The Bullying Prevention Policy – Complaint Procedure for ETB Staff and
- The Harassment & Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy – Complaint Procedure for ETB Staff were revised in 2016 and re-launched with an implementation date of 1 September 2016.
Fundamental to the operation of both, is the emphasis on the use of informal means to seek to resolve matters of concern as early as possible and to this end, mediation is emphasised strongly as a means to securing a positive outcome to matters in dispute. The Consultative Forum at national level and signatory ETBs, advocate the use of mediation as an effective method to resolving matters of conflict which is both impartial and confidential in its dealings.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process for resolving disputes wherein the parties agree to attempt to resolve the issue/s in dispute with the aid of an accredited professional mediator. In the event that this is used, a professional mediator shall be nominated by the Head of HR in an ETB from the following sources:
All matters related to the mediated process remain strictly confidential to the parties themselves. The mediator will advise the Head of HR of the date of conclusion of the mediation and the outcome to the mediation namely, whether an agreed outcome has been achieved or an agreed outcome has not been achieved.
Additionally, a national network of Contact Persons in the ETB sector has been established and these persons have undergone training from Consensus Mediation, on their role under the said Prevention Policies. The Contact Person plays a key frontline role in the implementation of the Prevention Policies by providing information and support in a confidential, non-judgemental and off-the-record discussion to any employee in an ETB who may have concerns around bullying and harassment/sexual harassment issues that may arise in the ETB workplace.
To this end, the Contact Person will endeavour to:
- Actively listen and provide support allowing the concerned staff member to speak about their experience and thus help to clarify and organise their thoughts.
- Explain the procedures, the various options available and help the person identify whether their complaint fits the definitions of the procedure.
- Assist, through basic coaching questions, to help the employee explore the issue and come to a decision about what s/he wishes to do by way of a next step.
The Contact person ‘has a listening brief and is a reference point for the complainant…’; he/she does not get involved in any other way in the complaints procedure and is not an advocate for either party’ (Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying in the Workplace, HSA, 2007).
The Contact Person will treat all discussions with persons who seek their support, as completely confidential and will not be requested to disclose information to a third party. However, in a crisis situation of potential danger (concern for the person’s own or another’s health, safety or welfare) the Contact Person should seek support and assistance from Management/HR Department.
Meetings between the Contact Person and the person seeking support should normally take place during normal working hours. No home or personal mobile telephone numbers should be exchanged. Meetings should last no longer than 45 minutes to an hour and no more than 3-4 meetings with any one individual should ever be needed.
The ETBI/Unions’ Consultative Forum encourages persons who may have concerned to read the policies available on the ETB website, or on your trade union website and to get in touch with a Contact Person in your local ETB office. A list of trained Contact Persons is available by clicking onto this link is available by clicking onto this link. Further details on how to get in touch with the Contact Persons are available from your ETB HR department.
While it is a decision for the complainant as to whether s/he invokes the procedure or not, in most cases the informal route and specifically mediation, is the preferred approach of the ETB and unions representing staff in the sector. The support of ETB executive management is particularly acknowledged for its willingness to provide Employee Assistance Service Support or counselling locally, on a case-by-case basis. The HR Manager in your local ETB should be contacted in this regard.