First we had the new Workplace Relations Act 2014 (enacted 01/10/2015) in Ireland which has created totally new procedures for resolution of workplace disputes. Now similar developments are occurring in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) introduced the Employment Bill onto the floor of the Assembly on 7 December 2015.
The Bill’s provisions follow a review of employment law by the Department and earlier public consultation with a view to reducing administrative and regulatory burdens on employers, whilst protecting employment rights.
The three principal themes covered by the Bill are early resolution of workplace disputes; efficient and effective Employment Tribunals and better Regulation measures. The Committee for Employment and Learning at Stormont are seeking written submissions from stakeholders on the provisions contained within the Bill.
The topics covered include but are not limited to; ensuring the Labour Relations Agency is the first point of contact for disputes with a neutral assessment service in operation prior to proceeding to an Industrial or Fair Employment Tribunal; a range of provisions on public interest disclosure disputes including the calculation of unfair dismissal and other payment awards, power to amend the definition of ‘worker’ and the application of the ‘good faith’ test amongst other matters; whistleblowing and providing DEL with powers to make regulations concerning the provision of careers guidance and the operation of apprenticeships.
Deadline for Submissions
Due to the limited timescale for Committee Stage as the Assembly approaches the end of this mandate in spring 2016, there is a tight deadline for submissions of 21 December 2015.
Information about how to respond and the prescribed form for responses can be found here
The Bill as introduced and the Explanatory Memorandum can be found here