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News & Events

Reform of employment rights and industrial relations bodies moves to next stage with publication of detailed plan - Bruton

Significant reform already delivered with large reductions in waiting times

5th April 2012

Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today published a Blueprint document which sets out in detail the proposed shape of the new workplace relations structures that will be in place from the end of this year. The document outlines the new processes and the service standards that will apply.

Encouraged by progress to date Minister Bruton is taking the next steps in reforming the State’s employment rights and industrial relations structures and processes by establishing a two-tier Workplace Relations structure and putting in place more efficient and effective workplace dispute resolution mechanisms.

From the end of this year two statutorily independent bodies will replace the current five. There will be a new single body of first instance to be called the Workplace Relations Commission. This will take on the functions of the Labour Relations Commission, the National Employment Rights Authority, the Equality Tribunal and the first instance functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The Labour Court will become the single appeal body for all workplace relations appeals including those currently heard by the EAT.

In the current complex system, there were, and in some cases still are, long delays of up to two years in scheduling hearings and further delays in issuing decisions.

The Minister is replacing this outdated, complex and inefficient system with one that will provide a simple, independent, effective, impartial, cost effective and workable means of redress and enforcement, within a reasonable period of time.

From the end of this year we will have:

One authoritative information source

A focus on assisting employers and employees to help them avoid and resolve disputes in the workplace

An Early Resolution Service to facilitate resolution of disputes without the need to resort to a hearing or inspection

A single Body of First Instance to decide on all complaints, with a single route to appeal,

Common time limits for lodging complaints and appeals

A just, fair and efficient adjudication service with a target period of three months from the time of complaint to hearing

Written, reasoned and published decisions

New compliance mechanisms to encourage compliance with employment law and to deal with non-compliance in a more efficient and proportionate manner

Significant progress has been made in reform to date:

All first instance complaints are now acknowledged and the employer is notified within five days of the complaint being lodged. Prior to the introduction of the Workplace Relations Customer Service in January this process was taking up to eight months in some cases

The backlog for Rights Commissioner hearings has been reduced (it took an average of 142 days to schedule a hearing in 2010. Hearings are now scheduled by the LRC within a matter of weeks.)

A Single Complaint Form replaced 30 existing complaint forms that currently accommodate over 100 specific complaint types across five institutions. The Single Contact Portal has dealt with over 3,500 complaints since January and 70% of all complaints received to date used the new form. A new release of the form was issued on March 30th to take account of feedback from stakeholders and users.

While the Blueprint provides significant detail of the shape and format of the new Workplace Relations structures and processes, it also provides a further opportunity for stakeholders to provide their views on the detailed design.

Work has commenced on the drafting of a Workplace Relations Bill to give effect to the reform. The Minister intends to have this legislation enacted by autumn of this year. The dialogue on the Blueprint will inform further drafting of the Bill.

The Minister expressed his satisfaction with the substantial progress which has been achieved in the Reform Programme to date, with a number of important priority actions successfully delivered within the target timescale. These include the Workplace Relations Single Point of Contact, the Single Complaint Form, the interim Workplace Relations Website, (www.workplacerelations.ie) and the Pilot Early Resolution Service.

Making today’s announcement, the Minister said:

“Like so many other areas of Government, reform of the employment rights and industrial relations bodies has been talked about for many years but nothing has been delivered. I am determined to deliver real reform in this area so as to reduce costs for business and the taxpayer, and achieve better results for employers and employees. To date we have made substantial progress in this complex area, and today’s announcement represents the next step towards delivering a new service by the end of the year.

“I am heartened by the commitment and support that is evident in the delivery of this major public sector reform. I look forward to the next phase as we deliver a truly world-class workplace relations service that will deliver significant improvements for employers and employees while at the same time saving the taxpayer money”.

“I wish to thank all those who have contributed to the process so far, in particular those who have worked so hard to deliver the progress achieved, including Ger Deering and his team in the Project Office, my officials and the Chief Officers and staff members of the five employment bodies.”

The Blueprint document is available at:


Observations are sought by April 30th 2012.

Further details: please contact Press Office, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, 01-6312200, press.office@djei.ie