Welcome to the Agency's questions and answers web page. We hope you will find it useful in addressing what we believe are some of the most contemporary employment relations issues in the modern workplace.

The Agency receives over 30,000 calls per year seeking information and advice on employment relations matters. The pages listed down the right hand side give a series of typical questions received by our Helpline advisors on various employment topics.

The answers to the questions on the topics pages are not in-depth and they are only to give the reader/user a general 'snapshot' of the potential employment issues associated with the question topics. However the answers will direct you to a relevant Agency publication or external sources which will give more detail.

References are made throughout this section about claims being made to an Industrial Tribunal. Industrial Tribunals are independent judicial bodies in Northern Ireland that hear and determine claims to do with employment matters.

The Labour Relations Agency provides an alternative to the Industrial Tribunal under the Labour Relations Agency Arbitration Scheme. Under the Scheme claimants and respondents can choose to refer a claim to an arbitrator to decide instead of going to a tribunal. The arbitrator’s decision is binding as a matter of law and has the same effect as a tribunal.

The Scheme covers claims in all employment rights jurisdictions, including unfair or constructive dismissal, payments owed, breach of contract, and discrimination in recruitment or employment.

The Scheme is entirely voluntary. Its use must be agreed by all parties to a claim.

The Scheme is confidential, quick, non-legalistic, informal, non-adversarial, cost efficient and flexible.

The Labour Relations Agency Arbitration Scheme Explained provides an overview of the benefits of using the Scheme and how to access it. More detailed guidance on using it is set out in the Guide to the Scheme.

Whilst the Agency aims to give an informative and comprehensive service the user should be aware that the Agency does not give legal advice. Therefore, in return for usage the user hereby agrees, by virtue of progressing through this website, that he/she will not hold the Agency liable for the result foreseeable of any actions that he/she may take based on the information contained herein. Thus, any information contained in this website or as a result of material taken or adduced from Agency publications or enquiries should not be regarded as an authoritative statement or interpretation of law. Such legal interpretation can only be given by the Industrial Tribunals, the Fair Employment Tribunal or the courts. Legal considerations must be looked at in light of the particular circumstances and it may be wise to seek legal advice.

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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