Solve a workplace dispute

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Mediation, conciliation and arbitration

You can get help from a third-party to solve disputes between you and your 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 have not come up with a solution.

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

Mediation should not be used to solve problems that have to be formally investigated (for example, harassment or discrimination).

You can also find a mediation service.

Read the Acas guide on mediation for more information.


Conciliation is similar to mediation but is normally used to try to find a solution:

  • before you make a claim to an employment tribunal (known as early conciliation)
  • after you make a claim to an employment tribunal (known as conciliation)

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.

If you’re part of a group of employees in dispute with your employer, read the Acas guide on collective 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 do not agree, you can still take a case to an employment tribunal.

Read the Acas guide on arbitration for more information.