The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, recently announced plans for reform and streamlining of the various employment rights bodies. The need for reform is driven by the haphazard manner in which our employment rights bodies have evolved.
Some of the key measures for reform are as follows:
- From 1 September 2011, Ger Deering (the current Director of the National Employment Rights Authority) (NERA) will be charged with steering the streamlining of the employment rights bodies. Currently the bodies which are involved in the process are the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), NERA, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) and the Labour Court. The possibility of including the Equality Tribunal is also being looked at. The objective of the streamlining is to have a single body for matters of first instance and a single appellate body.
- From 1 September next, the LRC, under Kieran Mulvey, will take over the day to day running of NERA on an interim basis. This will maximise opportunities for a joined up service between the two bodies for the benefit of employers and workers.
- The Minister plans to appoint five County Registrars as Chairs of the EAT from late September onwards. The purpose of this is to make optimum use of the resources currently available to the Government.
- There will be a new online EAT application form available to download from 1 August next. Again the purpose of this is to tidy up the current number of forms necessary to make an application from 5 to 1. The Minister plans to replicate this across the various employment rights bodies with the ultimate objective of having a single point of entry for all claims and a single website.
- There will be a short consultation period, starting at the end of July, which will enable the various stakeholders such as employer bodies and unions to submit any views/proposals on the planned reforms.
The short time span for the consultation process signals that the Minister is intent on bringing about these reforms as rapidly as possible. He has indicated that he anticipates that many of these changes will be in place by the end of the year. Certainly this would be a welcome development. The multiplicity of websites and forms has caused unnecessary headaches and confusion for many. Streamlining the process would be a much needed and cost effective measure for both employers and employees.