LRA Public Meeting to Focus on Introduction of New ‘Early Conciliation’ Service

Published on 11 October 2019
Added by Keelin Kelly

New workplace dispute resolution service required by Employment Act (NI) 2016 

Early Conciliation, a new service required by Northern Ireland employment legislation, will be the focus of the Labour Relations Agency’s annual public meeting on Thursday 24 October.

Cardiff Business School will also present the findings from recent research, ‘Disputes and their Management in the Workplace - a survey of employers in Northern Ireland,’ at the meeting, which will take place at Belfast’s Malone House from 11.30am.

Speaking ahead of the event, Chair of the Labour Relations Agency, Marie Mallon, encouraged all those with a role in workplace dispute resolution in Northern Ireland to attend the public meeting.

“This year we will be discussing a fundamental change to Northern Ireland’s workplace dispute resolution system.  Early Conciliation is coming in January 2020 when it will become a requirement to contact the Labour Relations Agency before lodging a claim with the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals.  From January 2020, it will be compulsory to at least consider the Agency’s offer of conciliation.  Where parties do not wish to take up that offer, or where conciliation does not result in an agreement, the Agency will issue a certificate with a unique reference number.  Any prospective claimant will need to provide the certificate number to the Tribunal if they wish to pursue a claim.

“This is a very positive development in employment relations in Northern Ireland,” added Marie.  “Given that the Agency has always had a statutory duty to offer conciliation, we know that it often succeeds in reaching a resolution.  Conciliation provides a safe space to explore, in total privacy, the possibility of reaching an agreement that both parties can accept, as opposed to a win or lose decision arising from a public court hearing.  Most people find conciliation to be a less stressful experience than appearing at a tribunal hearing.  It is also much easier to repair working relationships after conciliation, when parties wish to do so, whereas a tribunal often signals the end of the employment relationship.  Because parties don’t have to wait for a hearing date, the dispute can often be resolved more quickly, which in turn helps to reduce levels of stress for participants.  Like all the Labour Relations Agency’s services, conciliation is free of charge, so there is not the expense of preparing for and appearing at tribunal,” concluded Marie.

To register to attend the LRA public meeting contact or phone 028 9033 7416.