29 July 2013 saw the introduction of some further changes to employment law in Great Britain. These changes will not be mirrored in Northern Ireland now and, in fact, whether or not these changes will be introduced in Northern Ireland at all remains anyone's guess at the moment. We say this because a public consultation paper 'Employment Law Review' has only recently been published in Northern Ireland and this paper follows a number of very public announcements from Dr Stephen Farry, the Minister for Education and Learning, that this is a critical time for industrial relations legislation and practice in Northern Ireland.
The purpose of the public consultation is to seek views on a number of proposed employment law changes in Northern Ireland with a view to stimulating business confidence whilst maintaining the rights of individual employees. In the foreword to the consultation paper, the Minister has set out his commitment to developing local tailored employment law solutions and has expressly stated that all interested parties need to be prepared for divergence from the GB policy position where it is in the best interests of Northern Ireland to do so.
The public consultation period is open until early November 2013 and we hope to have further clarity in relation to proposed employment law changes within this jurisdiction by the Spring of 2014. In the meantime employers would be well advised to ensure that they are appraised of the correct employment law position in Northern Ireland before implementing any changes within the workforce or terminating the employment of an employee. Further, for employers with a presence in both GB and NI, great care must be taken to note the already increasing differences in approach between the two jurisdictions.
An overview of the recent key employment law changes introduced in Great Britain and the current position in Northern Ireland is set out below.
Click here to view table.