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About the Labour Relations Agency

Who We Are

The Labour Relations Agency (the Agency) was established in 1976 as a Non-Departmental Public Body with responsibility for promoting the improvement of employment relations in Northern Ireland. The Agency is independent of Government and is funded mainly in the form of a grant from the Department for the Economy (DfE).

What We Do

The Agency provides an impartial and confidential employment relations service to those engaged in industry, commerce and the public services. The Agency's services include the provision of advice on good employment practices and assistance with the development and implementation of employment policies and procedures. The Agency is also active in resolving disputes through its conciliation, mediation and arbitration services.

Agency Structure

The policy of the Agency is determined by a Board consisting of a part-time Chairman and nine other members appointed by the DfE. Members of the Agency's Board are appointed on the basis of their knowledge of, and experience in, employment relations. The Board normally comprises members from employer bodies, trade unions or those who have a relevant academic or employment law background. The Agency publishes an Annual Report and Accounts.

LRA Board

Marie Mallon

Ms Mallon was appointed to the Chair of the Labour Relations Agency with effect from 1 August 2014 following her retirement from the post of Deputy Chief Executive/Director of HR in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Prior to this Marie held many senior posts within Health and Social Care and was a member of the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals for 15 years. Marie also sat as an independent member on the Departmental Boards of DCAL and DFI. She is currently an associate of the Health and Social Care Leadership Centre and also undertakes independent HR consultancy. Marie has recently been appointed Chair of the Chairs’ Forum.

Jill Minne

Jill Minne is Strategic HR Director for the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS). She leads NICS HR, an organisation providing HR services and strategic HR advice to all Northern Ireland Government Departments. Previously Director of Organisational Development for Belfast City Council, the largest council in Northern Ireland, she worked for the Council for over 20 years leading change management, HR, diversity and inclusion and employability and skills programmes. Before she joined Belfast City Council Jill worked in HR in the private sector. She is a board member and ambassador for the Women’s Fund NI.

Deirdre Fitzpatrick

Mrs Fitzpatrick was appointed as an Independent Member to the Board. She is a management consultant, and runs her own consultancy practice. She works across the public, private, and voluntary sectors, and is very active in training and consultancy work with Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Deirdre started her career in the Ulster Business School, then set up Northern Ireland's first Business Incubation Centre, and she also established a property management company. Deirdre is a former Board member of Gerry Rogan Initiative Trust which works with disengaged young people, helping them back into education, training and employment. She is also a former Board member of the Northern Ireland Consumer Council, and was a member of their Audit Committee. Deirdre holds an honours degree in Business with Accounting and MBA from Queens University, Belfast.

Daire Murphy

Daire Murphy is an Employee Representative and a Regional Casework Official with the NASUWT, The Teachers' Union. He has previously worked in the voluntary sector, as an Employment Legal Adviser at the Law Centre (NI), representing workers and employees, and as a barrister in general practice. Daire is a member of the Committee of the Employment Lawyers Group NI and an accredited Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) Employment and Workplace Mediator.

Louise Crilly

Ms Crilly, appointed as an Independent Member to the Board, is a practising lawyer with over 20 years’ experience of legal practice in both the private and public sectors in Northern Ireland. For the last 16 years she has specialised in employment law and is currently the senior legal advisor working in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Michelle McGinley

Ms McGinley, appointed as an Employer Representative to the Board, is a qualified solicitor who works for Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), a not for profit organisation advising and supporting a wide range of businesses throughout Northern Ireland on employment matters. Prior to joining EEF in 2003, Michelle worked in private practice in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland specialising in defence employment litigation. Michelle also taught at a London Law School. Michelle advises and represents a wide range of organisations before the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals and is an accredited Solicitor Advocate and Mediator with the Law Society.

Alison Millar

Mrs Millar is the General Secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA). She has overall responsibility for the general work of the union as well as the management of all the staff and finances of the union. Alison is the key representative on many of the civil and public service negotiating bodies. Alison was previously the Deputy General Secretary for NIPSA and had responsibility for major policy issues including Welfare Reform, Review of Public Administration and matters relevant to the Health Service, Education, Libraries, Housing Executive and Local Government. Alison is also the lead negotiator on the Public Service Shared Service Programme which is a cross cutting initiative arising out of the Fresh Start Agreement. She is the Vice-Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee, Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Vice-President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Gary McMichael

Mr McMichael has been the Chief Officer of the Northern Ireland charity Action on Substances through Community Education and Related Training (ASCERT) since 2001. He formerly served on Lisburn City Council for 12 years and was a member of the NI Civic Forum.

Pauline Shepherd

Albert Mills

Mr Mills is a trade unionist. From 2006, he was Chairman of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU) Officers Negotiating Committee for Great Britain and Ireland, and played a major role during merger talks between ATGWU and Amicus to create Unite the Union. Albert was a Board member with the Civil Service Appeal Board from 1996 to 2010, and with the NI Local Government Superannuation Committee from 2000 to 2010.

Core Values

To achieve our vision and purpose, our values are to be:

  • Progressive – forward thinking, outward looking, and creative in seeking better ways to support the economy;
  • Ethical – always acting with integrity, impartiality and utmost professionalism, and demonstrating openness and accountability;
  • Exemplary – challenging ourselves to be the best we can be and a role model in how we conduct employment relations; 
  • Responsive – listening to our customers and adapting to ensure our services meet their needs.

Employment Relations Training

The Agency may, in reviewing arrangements for employment relations training, advise and make recommendations to employers, trade unions, the Department for Employment and Learning and other interested bodies on how employment relations training needs may best be met. The Agency may also help devise and propose training programmes and, though it has no power to give grants, it may recommend to the Department that aid be given to assist in the improvement of employment relations training.

Equality Statement

The Agency is fully committed to supporting the elimination of all forms of discrimination in employment and to using its services to help secure the objectives of fair employment, equal opportunity and good relations.

As a provider of services the Agency includes equality of treatment as a fundamental principle of good employment relations and best employment practice. As an employer the Agency seeks to ensure that its employment policies, procedures and practices conform to good practice as outlined in the relevant Codes of Practice

Providing Speakers

Agency officers, on request, give talks to, for example, employers, professional organisations, trade unions and educational establishments. Agency officers will also participate, as speakers, in seminars and training courses on employment relations, employment legislation and related employment issues. Requests for speakers should be made to the Director of Advisory Services.

Service Standards

The service standards set by the Agency are consistent with those set by Government in the Citizen's Charter. All Agency staff are aware of the quality of service that we aim to provide. Any complaint about the delivery of a service can be taken up through a Director of the Agency. All complaints will be investigated fully and responded to within five working days. If the person complaining is still not satisfied he/she may raise the matter with the Chief Executive who will reply within seven working days. If the person is not satisfied with the Chief Executive's response they may refer the matter to the Commissioner of Complaints, also known as the Ombudsman. A copy of the Agency's Customer Complaints Procedure which includes guidance on raising a complaint is available from the Agency.or can be downloaded from this website.

In all its work the Agency's Board and staff will ensure that the Agency's independence is maintained and always exercised. All Agency staff are committed to providing impartial advice and support in seeking to introduce good employment practices and improve workplace employment relations.

Staffing

The staff are direct employees of the Agency, recruited for their experience and knowledge of employment relations. All members of staff receive continuous training and development in relation to changes in employment legislation and employment relations practice and procedures. Most of the staff are located in a Head Office in Belfast with a small number in a Regional Office in Londonderry.

Users of our Service

Users of the Agency's services are normally workers, employers, employers' associations, trade unions and other organisations or individuals who require assistance with matters relating to employment practices and employment relations.

Workplace Information Service

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

The Workplace Information Service 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.

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