No 159 The Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (Commencement No. 1, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011 - S.R. 2011 No. 159 (C. 8).

This Order brings into operation the provisions of the Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (2011 c. 13 (N.I.)) (“the Act”) set out in Article 2. Those provisions come into operation on 3rd April 2011.


Sections 1 to 14 and 16 of and Schedules 1, 2 and 4 to the Act, which are commenced by this Order, make certain changes to the law relating to the resolution of disputes which arise in the workplace.

Section 1 of and Schedule 1 to the Act repeal the existing statutory grievance procedures introduced by the Employment (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/2902 (N.I. 15)). Section 2 repeals an unused provision of that Order concerning the statutory dispute resolution procedures and contracts of employment. Section 3 ends the connection between the statutory procedures relating to disciplinary and dismissal situations and time limits for lodging claims with an industrial tribunal or the Fair Employment Tribunal. The consequences of failure to comply with a relevant Code of Practice dealing with workplace grievances are established in section 4 and Schedule 2. The good practice set out in the Code supersedes the framework of statutory procedure in relation to these matters.

Section 5 makes provision dealing with the power to make industrial tribunal procedure regulations; specifically, it concerns the circumstances in which a tribunal may be empowered to determine proceedings without a hearing. Section 6 widens powers to restrict publicity in sensitive tribunal cases. Section 7 removes the requirement to seek a county court order for the purposes of enforcing an industrial tribunal award. Section 11 modifies Article 85 of the 1998 Order to allow the Fair Employment Tribunal, in specified circumstances, to assume the powers and functions of an industrial tribunal to deal with matters that would otherwise fall to be dealt with by an industrial tribunal.

Sections 8 and 12 extend greater discretion to the Labour Relations Agency in offering its conciliation service prior to a tribunal claim having been lodged. Sections 9 and 13 remove restrictions on the Agency’s duty to offer conciliation after a tribunal claim has been lodged. Sections 10 and 14 specify that certain sums payable under Agency conciliated settlements are to be treated as though payable under a county court order.

The Schedule to the Order contains transitional provisions. Paragraphs 1 and 2 have the effect that the repeal of the existing statutory grievance procedures and related repeals and amendments do not take effect in certain circumstances.

  • The statutory grievance procedures continue to apply (where they currently apply) if the action about which the employee complains (by complying with step one of the grievance procedures or presenting a tribunal complaint) occurs wholly before the 3rd April 2011.
  • The procedures also continue to apply (where they currently apply) if the action on which the grievance is based begins on or before the 2nd April 2011 and continues beyond that date, and the employee presents a tribunal complaint or complies with step one of the grievance procedures on or before either 2nd July 2011 or, in certain cases, 2nd October 2011.

Paragraph 3 of the Schedule contains a number of definitions which are relevant to the Order.

Last updated: 26 March 2019