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Bruton Delivers on Employment Rights and Industrial Relations Reform

Five employment rights institutions to be merged into two

Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation announced today [Friday] that as part of his overall plans to reform and consolidate the five existing employment rights institutions into two simplified and streamlined bodies, significant progress has been achieved to date. New initiatives, which have been delivered on time, include the introduction of a single complaint form, a single point of contact and a new website.

An interim Website (www.workplacerelations.ie) will provide information on employment, equality and industrial relations legislation and associated public services.

  • A Single Complaint Form for all first instance individual complaints and referals to the Rights Commissioner Service, the Employment Appeals Tribunal, National Employment Rights Authority, the Equality Tribunal and the Labour Court. This new form will replace 30 existing complaint forms that currently accommodate over 80 specific complaint types.
  • A Single Point of Contact, to be called the Workplace Relations Customer Services of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, will have the responsibility for:
    • information provision in relation to employment, equality andindustrial relations rights and obligations
    • the receipt and registration of all first instance complaints currently referred to the five workplace relations bodies
    • dealing with enquiries concerning the status of complaints and associated procedures and processes

Minister Bruton said: “This is an important step in the delivery of a world-class workplace relations service that is simpler, faster and cheaper.

“My plan will streamline the existing structures, procedures and mechanisms. My overall objective is to encourage early resolution of disputes, the vindication of employee rights and minimisation of the costs for employees, employers and Government, in terms of money, time and workplace productivity.

“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.

“I am more determined than ever to proceed to a two tier structure i.e. a single Workplace Relations Commission of first instance and a separate appeals body. This will mean effecting changes to bring about the ultimate merger of the existing five institutions into two. In parallel with the ambitious administrative reforms which are being delivered, my Department is developing the legislative proposals necessary to establish the new structure on a statutory footing.

“I would also like to recognise the leadership and commitment of the current heads of the institutions (and their Boards, where such exist) to effect meaningful change in this area” Minister Bruton concluded.

Notes to editors:

Minister Bruton outlined his proposals for reform at the UCD Employment Law Conference on July 1st 2011

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.

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

The measures taken by the Minister to date include:

Project Office

A dedicated Project Office led by Ger Deering who is supported by a team of officials from the Minister’s Department has been established. I believe the establishment of such a dedicated Office is a critical success factor in relation to this reform project. The members of this team have been chosen because of their professional, technical and specialist skills.

Day-to-day management and operation of the resources of NERA

With effect from 1st September 2011, the Labour Relations Commission, under the direction of Mr Kieran Mulvey, CEO, took over the day-to-day management and operation of the resources of the National Employment Rights Authority on an interim basis. This has enhanced opportunities for further synergy between the two bodies and maximise the potential for a joined-up service to employers and workers.

An Implementation Group

An Implementation Group was established within the Minister's Department to lead the change process. This Group which reports directly to the Minister and will be chaired by a senior official of his Department (and by the Minister himself from time to time) and will comprise representatives of all the bodies concerned as well as Mr Deering. This Group will provide the overall governance and management structure for the ERIR streamlining project.

Consultation

On the 15th of August Minister Richard Bruton launched a consultation process with the objective of establishing a world-class workplace relations service and employment rights framework. This is driven by the need to:

  • improve customer service, in light of the acknowledged complexity, backlogs and delays in the resolution of grievances and disputes
  • provide greater value for taxpayers‟ money, in light of current fiscal constraints
  • rationalise institutions in light of the Government‟s public service reform agenda

The results of the consultation are available here:

www.djei.ie/employment/rights/erirproject.htm

ENDS

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