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Consultation opens on replacement of five employment dispute resolution bodies

Both ICTU and Chambers Ireland have welcomed Minister Richard Bruton’s publication of new consultation paper.

Image: eflon via Creative Commons

THE MINISTER for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has announced a consultation period over the amalgamation of five employment bodies into a new two-tier system.

The bodies involved are the Labour Relations Commission, the Equality Tribunal, the National Employment Rights Authority, the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Labour Court.

Minister Richard Bruton, who outlined the initiative last month, said last night that the aim is to reduce the number of cases being heard and reduce the time it takes to bring those cases to a hearing.

He said the new system would have just one entry point to simplify the process, and would be easier to understand and use.

Bruton said:

[O]ur employment rights bodies which have grown up in a haphazard manner over the years are not fit for purpose. Workers seeking to enforce their rights face waiting times of up to 80 weeks, more than 35 different forms, six different websites, and generally bewildering complexity. Abuses go undetected; yet compliant employers too often find themselves embroiled in costly and time-consuming hearings. And the whole thing costs too much for the taxpayer. An effective system would see more grievances resolved in the workplace.

He said that the changeover would aim to provide support for those seeking an early resolution to a workplace dispute and would ensure that people would always be able to bring a case without relying on legal assistance, a representative body or a labour inspector.

Consultation

Industrial Officer with ICTU, Fergus Whelan told TheJournal.ie today that the organisation always welcomes consultation and it plans to “fully engage” in this process. He said that ICTU would watch carefully for the outcomes, but is “not at all concerned that [the minister] plans to bring in some reform”.

“One of the things that’s badly in need of reform is the Emply App Tribunal,” Whelan said.

First of all, it has a very, very long waiting list and it has become very legalistic. It takes so long to go through the process that rarely does anyone, even if they are found to have been unfairly dismissed, get reinstated.

In a dismissal situation, the longer it goes on, the less likely it is to have an amicable solution. All cases should go to the rights commissioner early; it’s not a legalistic forum, he could fix it more quickly and could increase the number of reinstatements.

Chambers Ireland also welcomed the consultation. The organisation’s CEO Ian Talbot said it was “imperative that actions are taken as soon as possible to ensure that the best regulatory system is created”.

The consultation period ends on 16 September. More information on the consultation process can be found here.

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