Dept of Jobs etc (DJEI) announces changes on employment rights reform.

Initially Issued Dec 29th; See update below received on Jan 6th regarding Equal Status cases The important changes promised by Richard Bruton will be implemented shortly in the delivery of the State’s Employment Rights and Industrial Relations Services (Workplace Relations Services).

Background

Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, commenced a programme of reform of the State’s employment rights and industrial relations procedures during 2011.  His aim is to establish a world-class workplace relations service and employment rights framework by streamlining the existing structures, procedures and mechanisms and establishing a simpler structure while building upon the recognised strengths of the existing systems.

The overall objective of the reform is to encourage early resolution of disputes, the vindication of complainants/employees rights and minimisation of the costs involved for all parties – respondents/employers, complainants/employees and Government – in terms of money, time and workplace productivity. The workplace relations bodies included in the reform programme are the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), the Labour Relations Commission (including the Rights Commissioner Service), the Equality Tribunal and the Labour Court.

This is a very ambitious reform programme and the Minister set some very challenging targets, the first of which will be achieved by the introduction next week of a new Website, a Single Complaint Form and a Single Point of Contact.

Interim Website

An interim Website (www.workplacerelations.ie) will, from 4th January, 2012, provide information on employment, equality and industrial relations legislation and associated public services. The websites of the five existing workplace relations bodies will remain in place pending the establishment of the fully fledged Workplace Relations website towards the end of 2012.

Single Complaint Form

A Single Complaint Form for all first instance individual complaints and referrals to the Rights Commissioner Service, the EAT, NERA, the Equality Tribunal and the Labour Court will be available from January 4th, 2012. This new form  will  replace 30 existing complaint forms that currently accommodate over 80 specific complaint types. The Form will be available through both the interim website and the five existing websites.  Complainants can complete the Form on their system, print and sign it for postal submission and save a copy for their own records.

Single Point of Contact

A Single Point of Contact will commence operations from January 4th. This new service, to be called the  Workplace Relations Customer Services of the  Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, will have the responsibility for a) information provision in relation to employment, equality and industrial relations rights and obligations, b) the receipt and registration of all first instance complaints currently referred to the five workplace relations bodies, and c) dealing with enquiries concerning the status of complaints and associated procedures and processes. Workplace Relations Customer Services can be contacted at Lo Call 1890 80 80 90 or through the eForm on www.workplacerelations.ie

Further Reforms

A range of further structural and procedural reforms are planned for 2012.  These will include the establishment of a Workplace Relations Early Resolution Service, the objective of which will be to seek resolution of complaints as an alternative to a formal adjudication hearing or an inspection. Work is currently underway on the design and implementation of a Pilot Early Resolution Service to commence in the first quarter of 2012.

Equal Status cases

As a result of a query from Workplace Solutions the following reply was received from the Department on Jan 6th.

It is intended that all the existing services  of the Equality Tribunal, including equal status complaints (non-employment rights) will be accessible through the Workplace Relations Website, Customer Services contact point and the Single Application Form.

The reform programme will see a new two-tier structure with one body of first instance and one appellate body established to deal with all employment related matters. While this new structure will deal with all employment equality matters  no decision has been reached in relation whether the new structure will deal with equal status complaints or whether they could be more appropriately dealt with by another body.  

This matter is under active consideration and a policy decision is expected in the near future.

Contacts

Further information on the reforms and on the new services to be introduced from January, 2012 is available at www.workplacerelations.ie by calling 1890 80 80 90 or by replying to this email.

Or if we can help or advise contact; pat.brady@workplacesolutions.ie