17th January 2018
Mr. Pat Breen, T.D., Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection announced that he has asked the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to undertake a review of their Codes of Practice on Bullying in the Workplace. The WRC Code dates from 2002 and the HSA Code has been in place since 2007.
The Minister said “It is timely to have a review carried out and I have asked the WRC and the HSA to work together to examine the possibility of developing a single Code of Practice for Bullying in the Workplace”.
The Minister’s initiative comes about as a result of evolving case law in this area that has brought these issues to the fore. He said “It is crucial that best practice in relation to bullying in the workplace is adhered to and regularly revisited and I want to take whatever steps I can in this important area insofar as the bodies for which I have policy responsibility are concerned”.
The announcement of the review of the Code on Bullying follows the recent enactment by the Minister of a new Code of Practice on Longer Working. This Code facilitated by the WRC, was developed in consultation with the social partners Ibec and ICTU as well as the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Human Rights and Equality Commission.
Revision of this Code came about as a result of a recommendation from an Inter departmental Group established in 2016 to consider policy around retirement age in both the public and private sectors. The Minister said “At a time when issues around retirement age in both the public and private sector are very topical, it is very timely to introduce a new Code of Practice to act as a guide to employers and employees”.
The Code sets out guidance and best practice for employers, employees and their representatives to follow during the engagement between employers and employees in the run up to retirement. It also considers the issue of responding to requests to work beyond the current retirement age in the employment concerned.
This development comes about in the positive context of people living longer and healthier lives. The Code will support employers and employees in the private sector in reaching mutually beneficial arrangements around retirement ages.
The Order giving effect to this Code of Practice came into effect on 20 December 2017 and is accessible at SI No 600 of 2017 Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Longer Working) (Declaration) Order 2017
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Note for Editors:
The Workplace Relations Commission
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is an independent, statutory body which was established on 1st October 2015 under the Workplace Relations Act 2015 (No. 16 of 2015).
It assumes the roles and functions previously carried out by the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), Equality Tribunal (ET), Labour Relations Commission (LRC), Rights Commissioners Service (RCS), and the first-instance (Complaints and Referrals) functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).
The Commission’s core services include the inspection of employment rights compliance, the provision of information, the processing of employment agency and protection of young persons (employment) licences and the provision of mediation, conciliation, facilitation and advisory services.
The WRC Code of Practice on Bullying dates from 2002 and can be found at the following link: Code of Practice on Addressing Bullying in the Workplace.
The Health and Safety Authority
The Authority was established in 1989 under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989. The Authority has a number of major roles. They are:
The national statutory body with responsibility for ensuring that approximately 1.8 million workers (employed and self-employed) and those affected by work activity are protected from work related injury and ill-health. The HSA does this by enforcing occupational health and safety law, promoting accident prevention, and providing information and advice across all sectors, including retail, healthcare, manufacturing, fishing, entertainment, mining, construction, agriculture and food services.
The lead National Competent Authority for a number of chemicals regulations including REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation and Seveso II Directive. The HSA's responsibility in this area is to protect human health (general public, consumers and workers) and the environment, to enhance competitiveness and innovation and ensure free movement of chemicals in the EU market.
A key agency involved in market surveillance and ensuring the safety of products used in workplaces and consumer applications. The HSA has a remit to protect 4.5 million citizens from unsafe products and articles and to enable the international movement and trade of goods manufactured in Ireland.
The HSA Code of Practice dates from 2007 and can be found at the following link: Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work.
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