The Workplace Relations Bill 2014 (the “Bill”) has been published, and is at the first stage before Dáil Éireann. The Bill, when enacted, will replace the five current workplace relations bodies with two, thereby providing a completely new adjudication process for dealing with employment disputes. It is intended that the new system will provide a world-class service while also delivering savings for the taxpayer.
The current system for resolving employment disputes is often criticised for being inefficient and costly. Currently, the Labour Relations Commission, the National Employment Rights Authority, the Equality Tribunal, the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Labour Court all have a role in the resolution of workplace disputes. This often means employers have to defend claims relating to the same dispute in a number of fora. Employees are also often left confused as to where they should initiate a claim and what the advantages of one forum are over another.
The Bill creates an infrastructure which overhauls this system. The various functions of the current bodies will be exercised by the Workplace Relations Commission at first instance and the Labour Court on appeal. There will be a common procedure for the presentation of complaints and the referral of disputes to the Workplace Relations Commission. An appeal to the High Court will be on a point of law only.
The Workplace Relations Commission will also provide a mediation service and an early resolution service to facilitate, where possible, the swift resolution of disputes without recourse to adjudication.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has set the end of this year as a target date for enacting the Bill.