COVID-19 Update

The Northern Ireland Engagement Forum was established by the Department for the Economy.  It is chaired by the Labour Relations Agency and comprises the Confederation of British Industry, Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses NI, Institute of Directors, Manufacturing NI, NI Retail Consortium, the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, SOLACE, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), the Labour Relations Agency and the Public Health Agency.

The Forum advises the NI Executive on how best to manage the challenges Covid-19 places on NI businesses and workers.

The Forum has produced A Practical Guide to Making Workplaces Safer which has been approved by the NI Executive and is now available to support organisations and workers across Northern Ireland to take appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.


Priority services

  • Employees

    Workplace Information Service

    The Workplace Information Service, which provides information to employers and employees about employment matters – this service is available by telephoning 03300 555 300, or visit the information pages on this site.

  • Employers

    Early conciliation and employer-led conciliation

    Further information on these services, and how to access them, is available here. These services will not, however, be delivered face to face.

Latest News

-Minister to bring forward Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay legislation for NI

Economy Minister Diane Dodds confirmed she will bring forward legislation for Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay in Northern Ireland. The Department for the Economy will proceed with a consultation on parental bereavement leave and pay. Find out more here

- Government opens SSP rebate scheme for coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay

The government has opened a rebate scheme for employers who wish to claim back SSP payments due to employees becoming ill due to coronavirus.

More information is available here

- Executive publishes Coronavirus recovery strategy

A phased five-stage plan for slowly moving out of lockdown has been published by the Executive today.

- Amendment to the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016

Amendments to the working time regulations have been made to allow workers in Northern Ireland unable to take holiday leave as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak to carry over their annual leave to the next two leave years. The changes can be viewed here

- Ministers announce protection of family-related statutory payments for furloughed workers

Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey on 24 April 2020 announced changes to regulations which mean that people who are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay will not be disadvantaged if they are furloughed.

They have approved changes to the Shared Parental Pay Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 and the Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption pay (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

Links to the legislation here and here

- HMRC Furlough portal opens

The HMRC portal for accessing the Coronavirus job retention scheme has been opened and is available here



Key resources

Our approach

Given the ongoing threat to public health posed by Covid-19 (Coronavirus), we have regrettably had to make a number of changes to the services provided by the Labour Relations Agency.

These changes are to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and their families, and our customers.  We also want to ensure that we continue to deliver those services that are of most importance to our customers at this critical time.

Therefore, the Agency will be conducting no face to face meetings with customers.  We will endeavour to hold meetings by alternative means such as video conferencing or teleconference.  Our staff will, in general, be working remotely and our offices are closed to visitors.

This means that our arbitration, independent appeals and mediation services are suspended for the time being – scheduled hearings and meetings are cancelled and will be rearranged when circumstances allow.  No new bookings for these services will be accepted until further notice. Our programme of public and in-company seminars and workshops has also been postponed for the time being.

At this time we believe our approach to the threat is proportionate, but this may change depending on public health advice and the impact of the virus on our staff.

All Agency staff can continue to be contacted via email or via our main telephone number 03300 552 220.

About the Labour Relations Agency

We provide an impartial and confidential employment relations service to those engaged in industry, commerce and the public services. Our services include the provision of advice on good employment practices and assistance with the development and implementation of employment policies and procedures. We are also active in resolving disputes through our conciliation, mediation and arbitration services.