Dismissal on the grounds of capability is one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal and usually includes termination for ill health, failure to achieve or loss of relevant qualifications and incapacity to perform the role.  The fairness of such a dismissal will be dependant on the individual circumstances.    

See Dismissal

Certification Officer

The Certification Officer is responsible for:

  • maintaining a list of trade unions and employers' associations
  • receiving and scrutinising annual returns from trade unions and employers' associations
  • determining complaints concerning trade union elections,  certain other ballots and breaches of trade union rules
  • ensuring observance of statutory requirements governing  mergers between trade unions and between employers' associations
  • overseeing the political funds and the finances of trade unions  and employers associations
  • certifying the independence of trade unions

See http://www.nicertoffice.org.uk/

Changing Work Patterns

There are now many different patterns of work. These include part-time work, flexi time, job sharing, shift work and teleworking. A recent development is the right of parents of children under the age of six or disabled children under the age of eighteen and, from 6th April 2007, to carers of adults to apply to their employer to work more flexibly. The request can cover hours of work, times of work and place of work and may include requests for different patterns of work.


Flexible working


Flexible working - the law and best practice

Types of flexible working


See Family Friendly Policies

Chaperone Licences

A child taking part in a performance - including TV, film, theatre, paid sporting activities or modelling - has to have a chaperone with them.

The CPSSS licenses, registers and trains chaperones for children who have been licensed to perform. The chaperone would care for a maximum of 12 children and would be engaged / employed by the production company.

The Education Authority holds the register of all licensed chaperones throughout Northern Ireland.

Child Employment Permits

The Child Protection Support Service for Schools (CPSSS)/Education Welfare Service issues employment permits in respect of children of compulsory school age who propose to engage in part-time employment. 

As required by law [The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, Part X11, articles 135/6 & The Employment of Children Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996, amended 2006)], all employers of children of compulsory school age must apply for a permit to the Education Authority before the proposed starting date of the child's employment. The application must include written consent from the parent/carer of the child.

N.B. It is unlawful for any child under the age of thirteen to be employed.

If the Designated Officers in CPSSS are satisfied that all legal and regulatory conditions are being met, an employment permit is issued. If a permit is not issued, the proposed employment is unlawful.

Application forms and regulations are available from the CPSSS or by clicking on the following link:

Child Employment Permits


Childbirth – Meaning of

Childbirth means the live birth of a child, or a still birth after a pregnancy lasting 24 weeks.

Children, Employment of

For the purposes of employment, a child is defined as being under school leaving age and the employment of children is governed primarily by the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and associated legislation, The Employment of Children Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996.  Children cannot be employed:

  • if they are under the age of 13
  • for more than 1 hour before school opening time and anytime before school finishing time
  • before 7am in the morning and after 7pm in the evening on any day
  • for more than 2 hours on a school day
  • in any occupation other than those permitted by the legislation, which includes, for example, newspaper delivery, office work, shop work (with restrictions), domestic work etc.
  • without the written consent of their parents

Other restrictions for employment of children under the age of 15 and those over the age of 15 are detailed in the Regulations.  The Regulations also set out a requirement for an employer to give notice to the appropriate Education Board of their intention to employ a child and if approved, the Board shall issue an Employment Card.

See Children’s Law Centre: http://www.childrenslawcentre.org

Children’s Order http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1995/uksi_19950755_en_1

Employment of Children Regulations http://www.northernireland-legislation.hmso.gov.uk/sr/sr1996/Nisr_19960477_en_1.htm

Civil Partnership

Same sex couples who register as civil partners have the right to equal treatment with married couples in a wide range of matters including employment and vocational training. So whatever benefits an employer provides to married employees and their spouses must be provided to employees who are civil partners and to their civil partners – for example survivor pensions, flexible working, statutory paternity pay, paternity and adoption leave, health insurance or time off before or after marriage / registration. There are no legal requirements to offer such benefits to couples of either the same or opposite sex who have not entered into a marriage or civil partnership. However, where benefits are made available to unmarried couples of opposite sex they must be extended equally to same sex couples who have not registered a civil partnership.



Claimant is the term used to describe an individual (employee) who lodges an application to the Industrial or Fair Employment Tribunal.


Code of Practice

A Code of Practice produced by the Labour Relations Agency gives authoritative advice in a key area of employment practice and is approved by The Department of Employment and Learning and referred to by Industrial Tribunals. Currently the Agency has three codes of practice;

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

Time off for Trade Union duties and activities

Disclosure of information to Trade Unions for collective bargaining

Collective Agreement

Is an agreement made between a Trade Union and an Employer (or Employers Association) about employment matters that the Trade Union can negotiate with the employer on, for example, pay, hours and holidays. The Written Statement of Employment Particulars must set out what (if any) collective agreements apply to an individual’s employment.

Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is one method that employers use to work with trade unions or works councils to negotiate things like terms and conditions of employment for certain groups or all of their employees.

Collective Redundancies

Is a term used to describe a situation in which 20 or more employees are being made redundant.

See Redundancy

Common Law

Is that part of law that has evolved over a long period of time from decisions made by Judges.  Prior to the 1960’s the law governing Contracts of Employment was primarily derived from this source and a number of important cases which establish important legal points are derived from common law.

The Labour Relations Agency Good Practice Seminar - Introduction to Employment Law  looks at how employment law impacts on the employment relationship.   

Communication & Consultation

No business or organization can succeed without communicating with their staff. The exchange of information and instruction enables us to do our jobs more efficiently. Most now go a step further than this and discuss issues of mutual concern through consultation.



An employee who believes that they have been treated less favourably on, for example, the grounds of their gender, race, or because they are employed on a part-time or fixed term contract, must compare themselves to another employee who they believe have not been treated in the same less favourable way as them – a ‘Comparable Employee’.  The comparator must be employed in the same organisation and may be an existing or previous employee or in some cases may be hypothetical.


Is the term used to describe monetary awards made by an Industrial Tribunal where an application made by an individual is upheld.  In a case of Unfair Dismissal, compensation is one of three awards given by an Industrial Tribunal and is usually made up of the following elements:

  • Basic Award – is calculated in the same way that a Statutory Redundancy Payment is calculated and is based on an individual’s age and length of service. This is subject to a maximum limit which usually increases each year and is £15,000 (as at 14th February 2016).
  • Compensatory Award – is such amount as a Tribunal considers just and equitable taking into account the financial loss sustained by the claimant as a result of being dismissed. This is subject to a maximum limit which usually increases each year and is £79,100 ((as at 14 February 2016)
  • Additional Award – if an employer refuses to comply with an order of Re-instatement or Re-engagement a Tribunal may order them to pay an additional award of compensation of not less than 26 weeks nor more than 52 weeks’ pay. (Maximum of £26,000  ((as at 14th February 2016)

In a case of Discrimination, the compensation that is awarded may include an element referred to as ‘Injury to Feelings’ made to reflect the degree of upset, humiliation and anger as a result of the discriminatory act.

See also Re-engagement/Re-instatement Order


Unfairly dismissal



Compensation Limits

As of 14th February 2016

 Maximum Award

Unfair Dismissal

Basic award -£15.000 (30 x £500)

Compensatory award -£79,100

Additional award - £13,000 - £26,000 i.e. 26 - 52 weeks pay

Redundancy Pay £15,000 (30 x £500)
Discrimination - Race, sex and disability - No limit
Dismissal for union/employee representative or pensiontrustee reason

Basic award - minimum £6,000

Compensatory award - £79,100

Dismissal for health and safety reasons

Basic award - minimum £6,000

Compensatory award - No limit

Dismissal for making a protected disclosure

Basic - minimum £6,000

Compensatory award - No limit

Guarantee pay

£129.50 (5 days in any period of 3 months)

(£25.90 per day)

Contract claims in an industrial tribunal £25,000
Limit on a week's pay £500

The Department for Employment and Learning will amend  these figures annually in line with the retail prices index via a statutory rule.

Compromise Agreement

A legally binding agreement (if properly concluded), between an employer and an employee to settle (compromise) an existing or potential claim to the Industrial or Fair Employment Tribunal.  In effect, the employee agrees to ‘settle-out-of-court’ by accepting the financial or other compensation that the employer is offering in return for signing away their right to pursue their claim.  The agreement must meet certain requirements to be viewed as legally binding including; being in writing, signed by both parties and the employee must have had the benefit of independent legal advice.

See also – Conciliation

Conciliated Agreements

A legally binding agreement, facilitated through the Conciliation service of the Labour Relations Agency, between an employer and employee to settle an existing or potential claim to the Industrial or Fair Employment Tribunal. As with a Compromise Agreement, the employee agrees to ‘settle-out-of-court’ by accepting the financial or other compensation that the employer is offering in return for signing away their right to pursue their claim.  This service is provided free of charge by the Agency.

See Conciliation

Conciliation Explained


The Agency has a statutory remit to attempt to seek the resolution of most infringements of individual employment rights, without the need for an industrial tribunal or Fair Employment Tribunal hearing. This process is called individual conciliation and covers employment rights conferred by the various legislative provisions. In all such cases Agency officers help both parties in an impartial and independent way. They do not act as a representative of either party. It is the responsibility of the officer to help both parties become aware of the options open to them and enable them to reach informed decisions on how best to proceed. Agency officers can also be called upon to act as conciliators, when invited, by employers and workers involved in an industrial dispute. This is known as Collective Conciliation.

Resolving Disputes

Conciliation Explained

See Grievances

Conduct – Dismissal for

Dismissal on the grounds of conduct or misconduct is one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal.  

See Dismissal

Constructive Dismissal

A type of dismissal situation in which an employee resigns in circumstances in which they are entitled to do so by reason of the employer’s conduct.  A constructive dismissal complaint could arise out of a significant breach, going to the root of the contract of employment.  

See Breach of Contract and Dismissal

Continuity of Employment

An individual’s entitlement to certain employment rights depends on their length of continuous service with the same employer, for example, in most cases an employee needs to have one years’ continuous service to be able to take a claim for Unfair Dismissal.  A break of a week or more is usually enough to break continuity of employment.  In certain circumstances, however a gap in employment does not break continuity, for example, if an employee is dismissed because of a temporary cessation of work or an employee is dismissed from work because of sickness or injury and is re-employed within 26 weeks of the contract being terminated – the period in between will count as part of an employee’s continuous service.

See Rights at Work – for examples of employment rights that accrue with continuous service.


Continuous employment


Continuous employment and employee rights

Contract for Service

A contract for service is an agreement between a self-employed contractor and end user to carry out a particular job or provide a service.  Unlike a contract of service/employment there is no employment relationship.  However, this distinction is not always clear and Industrial Tribunals will often have to determine the correct employment status in claims of, for example, unfair dismissal.

Contracts of Employment

A contract of employment is a legal agreement between an employer and an employee. It comes into force when an employee agrees to work for an employer in return for pay. An employer is legally required to put most of the main details of an employee's work in a written statement of main terms and conditions – for example working hours, pay and leave.


Written statement of employment particulars

Contracts of employment changes, breach of contract and deuctions from wages


The written statement

Change an employees contract


Self help guides

Corporate Manslaughter

Serious breaches of management and organisation of a company’s activities, for example, Health and Safety which results in the death of an individual may amount to an offence under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.  View the act using the link below.  

Corporate Manslaughter

Custom and Practice

Terms and conditions of employment may become implied into the contract of employment if they are a custom within a particular industry or business, or a regular practice. These terms are generally not in writing but are known and agreed by all.   For such a term to be viewed as a contractual requirement or entitlement the term must be reasonable, certain and notorious.  This means that it must be fair, predictable, established, well known and unambiguous.  Discretionary benefits, for example, enhanced redundancy payments which are not expressly written into the Written Statement of Employment Particulars or other contractual documents such as a Company Handbook, will not necessarily become implied through custom and practice simply because they have been given in the last few redundancy exercises.  In the event of a disagreement an Industrial Tribunal will have the ultimate determination over whether such terms form part of the contractual entitlement.

LRA Advisory Guide Advice on agreeing and changing contracts of employment

Cyber Bullying

Although more often associated as being a problem with young people, Cyber Bullying can also be a workplace problem.  It occurs when a person or a group of people use information technology, like email and the internet to threaten, intimidate or humiliate another person.  For example, sending threatening, prejudicial or discriminatory emails around colleagues, or using personal information of photos of a colleague and posting them on a website or blog without that person’s permission.

See Bullying and Harassment

Telephone Enquiry Point

The Agency’s Enquiry Point is available to employers, employees, trade unions and others. Enquiry Point advisors provide information and advice on a wide range of employment matters. The Enquiry Point is also an important contact point for identifying circumstances, or clients, who would benefit from being referred to other Agency services.

The Enquiry Point provides clear, confidential, independent and impartial advice to assist the caller in resolving issues in the workplace.

While the advisors cannot provide a legal opinion they can help callers gain a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities as well as identifying possible options to help resolve their issues.

028 9032 1442

Monday - Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm

Contact Us

Please note that we cannot deal with employment-related enquiries by e-mail. To receive information or advice about an employment-related issue, please telephone our Helpline on Belfast 90 321442 where an officer will speak with you directly about your query. Please note that the Agency can arrange the services of an interpreter if required.

If you have an employment relations issue in Great Britain please contact the ACAS Helpline on 0300 123 1100 .

For all non-employment related queries or questions please fill in the box below.