4. 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.


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.