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New employment rights and industrial relations takes effect today 

The Government says that it is introducing new employment rights and industrial relations, as two major changes take effect today to provide certainty and improve services, pay and conditions for thousands of employers and employees across the country.

Firstly, the five bodies previously responsible for disputes in the workplace are merged into two, to provide a better service at less cost to the State, employers and employees. When completely bedded in the reforms will result in 20% reduction in staff and 10% reduction in budgets. This represents the biggest reforms to the State’s employment rights and industrial relations machinery in 70 years.

As a result of these reforms, the Government claims that:

· The delay for Equality cases has been halved in a three-month period this year

· The backlog for Rights Commissioners hearings has been reduced from over 20 weeks to an average of 8 weeks now

· Complaints are acknowledged within a matter of days. Before these reforms it took an average of 8 months

· The Workplace Relations Commission will reduce waiting times with a target of three months from the time of complaint to hearing

· Employers are notified, on average, within 10 working days of the complaint being lodged, thus increasing the possibility of a resolution being reached without the need for any hearing

· There are now a total of two e-forms to be used – one for the first complaint, one for appeals – replacing the 44 paper forms that existed previously

· A series of measures have made the process less legalistic and to encourage early resolution

· Appointments are more transparent, with all adjudicators and decision-makers appointed by public competition through the PAS

· The previous practice bringing cases related to the same incident to multiple for a has ended.

The Director General of the Workplace Relation Commission, Kieran Mulvey with twenty-five years’ experience at the helm of the Labour Relations Commission, said:
“I look forward to the challenge of ensuring the WRC delivers on its ambition to offer comprehensive solutions across a broad range of workplace disputes, while simplifying the process for employers and employees alike.”

The Chairman of the Labour Court, Kevin Duffy commented that, “An expanded Labour Court will play a key role in these workplace reforms, ensuring appeals are dealt with promptly and reducing referrals to higher courts. I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition under the new framework.”

The Workplace Relations Commission starts receiving cases from today.

Security and contract cleaning industries get improved rates of pay
The second major change taking effect today is the reinstatement of Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) for the security and the contract cleaning industries brings improved rates of pay for workers in these sectors, with new basic hourly rates of €10.75 and €9.75 respectively. The Orders, which take effect today, also set enhanced rates for overtime and other improved terms and conditions for workers. 

Following their striking down by the High Court, Minister Bruton and subsequently following his appointment Minister Nash spearheaded reform of this area to reinstate the protection previously provided to workers by Employment Regulation Orders. The new rules and enhanced conditions taking effect today for the contract cleaning and security industry mark a major step on this road, as part a new flexible system more responsive to changing conditions in the economy.