Committee for Employment and Learning - Report on the Employment Bill (NIA 73/11-16)

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 27 January 2016

Report on the Employment Bill (NIA Bill 7311-16).pdf (645.27 kb)

Executive Summary

  1. The purpose of the Employment Bill is to make provision for early resolution of workplace disputes and create a neutral assessment service. The Bill also introduces significant reform to the law around public interest disclosures. Finally, the Bill permits the Department to deal with the provision of careers guidance and apprenticeships and traineeships through regulations.

  2. As set out by the Department for Employment and Learning, the provisions of the Bill will:

     i. provide that, in most cases, a prospective claimant must first have submitted the details of their claim to the Labour Relations Agency before they can lodge the claim at an industrial tribunal or the Fair Employment Tribunal;

     ii. extend confidentiality provisions to ensure that the full range of the Labour Relations Agency dispute resolution services is appropriately protected;

    iii. contain enabling provisions that allow for a neutral assessment service to be operated by the Labour Relations Agency;

    iv. convert the Department’s power to amend the qualifying period, for the right to claim unfair dismissal, from confirmatory to draft affirmative procedure; provide for more accurate rounding when annual changes, in line with inflation, are applied to the maximum amount of an unfair dismissal award and other employment rights related payments; and empowers the Department to modify these sums if a draft order is approved by the Assembly;

    v. alter the effect of the good faith test; the issue of good faith will now be considered by a tribunal in relation to remedy, rather than liability;

    vi. introduce a test to close the loophole in public interest disclosure legislation;

    vii. introduce a power to allow the Department to make regulations requiring regulators and other bodies prescribed for the purposes of Article 67F of Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (as recipients of whistleblowing disclosures) to report annually on disclosures of information made by workers;

    viii. include public interest disclosure protections for student nurses and student midwives;

    ix. introduce a power to amend, by subordinate legislation, the definition of worker in public interest disclosure legislation;

    x. legislate for employers to be vicariously liable if an employee who makes a protected disclosure subsequently experiences detriment from colleagues;

    xi. amend enabling powers to allow for procedural changes to be made to regulations concerning Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal;

    xii. permit the Department to deal with the provision of careers guidance by way of regulations; and

    xiii. empower the Department, by regulations, to deal with the provision of apprenticeships.

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