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Quick guide to employment mediation

What is mediation?

Mediation is where an independent person called a mediator helps an employee and an employer resolve an employment relationship problem in a semi-formal and confidential environment.

Mediation is voluntary. However, participation in mediation can be seen as part of the good-faith duties of an employment relationship. If you choose not to take part, the other party might be able to take their complaint to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) which can require you to attend mediation.

The mediation process

Each mediation is different and has its own format. It can involve different types of activities, such as:

  • Early assistance This may be through email and telephone conversations. A mediator will see if there’s a way of sorting out the problem without needing a mediation meeting.

  • A mediation meeting This is when parties meet with a mediator in a semi-formal environment.

  • A record of settlement If the parties agree to a solution this will be written down in a record of settlement. This is legally binding and the parties cannot come back to it, for example, once a record of settlement is signed by the parties and a mediator from the Employment Mediation Services, you may not take the other person to the ERA if it relates to the same issue.

  • Giving the mediator powers If both parties agree, you can give the mediator the power to either make a written recommendation or binding decision.

You may choose to have representation throughout the mediation process.

There is a Quick guide to employment mediation, which is an overview of the mediation process and what to expect.

As well as English, the booklet is also available in Māori, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Samoan, Tagalog and Tongan.

All versions of the Quick guide to employment mediation publication are available on the Employment New Zealand website at


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