May 5, 2020

Here is a suggested protocol for in-person mediations on a return to work after COVID-19:

1) Agreement of all participants to:

  • conduct mediation in-person rather than by video or telephone conferencing;
  • take their own temperatures at home within two hours prior to coming to the mediation;
  • answer a short health self-assessment (see link below) prior to coming to the mediation; and
  • (by text prior to the mediation) advise the mediator that based on the foregoing that there are NO concerns and the individual is ready to participate in the mediation that day;

    2) Optional agreement of all participants:

  • will participants be allowed or required to wear cloth face masks?
  • will participants be allowed or required to wear gloves?
  • are there any material allergies (e.g. latex) that any participant wishes to bring to the attention of the mediator so that appropriate arrangements can be made?

    3) Mediation rooms (plenary and caucus) are set up with more spacing than normal. Preferably opposing parties and mediator are separated by at least 2 m. Most useful table arrangement for small number of parties will be ‘hollow square’ (Many rooms traditionally used for caucus and plenary rooms may be too small to accommodate separations);

    4) Ventilation in rooms to be used should be considered so that air currents blowing from one set of participants to another are minimized (can be accomplished with negative pressure or ceiling fans blowing down forcing air to the outside of rooms). Outside locations on patios or rooms with windows that open to the outside might be an option for more complete air circulation;

    5) Any refreshments or food are available in individual containers or sufficient water jugs, coffee pots for the number of parties to minimize any need to share the same;

    6) Nice to have:

  • facility or mediator supplies wipes, towels, hand sanitizer and general sanitizer in all rooms and in washrooms to be used by parties;
  • all participants have and have used for at least 14 days prior to the mediation, a contact tracker app that can give assurance to all participants that the person has not had any contacts with positive cases within the last 10 to 14 days;
  • space used for mediation avoids use of elevators and crowded waiting rooms and spaces.

    Self-assessment tool

    In the Province of Ontario, a self-assessment tool can be accessed at this link.