EMPLOYMENT LAW

LRA's New Early Conciliation Service introduced from 27 January 2020

In a significant change to NI’s employment law process, the Labour Relations Agency’s (LRA) new Early Conciliation service is now live, as of Monday 27 January 2020.

Early Conciliation requires employees to register any potential claims with the LRA prior to lodging proceedings with the Office of the Industrial Tribunal and Fair Employment Tribunal.

Our step-by-step guide below explains how the new process works in practice:

  1. Any employee contemplating lodging Tribunal proceedings must notify the LRA by completing the LRA Notification Form, which will initiate the conciliation process.
  2. The LRA will appoint an Early Conciliation Support Officer to contact both employee and employer. The Early Conciliation Support Officer will identify whether the employee seeks to explore conciliation as a means of resolving their dispute, and if so, the employee’s information will be sent to a Conciliation Officer. If the employer is also willing to participate in Early Conciliation, the LRA will seek to achieve settlement between the parties, within one calendar month from the date on which the employee’s Notification Form was received by LRA. Therefore the time limit for an employee to lodge their claim with a tribunal (typically three months) is paused for up to a calendar month, with this timeframe capable of being further extended by up to 14 days in some circumstances.
  3. If settlement can be agreed each party will sign a COT3 agreement stating the terms of settlement and the dispute will be concluded. If settlement is not possible, an Early Conciliation Certificate will be issued. This will occur if no settlement negotiations fail, the parties cannot be contacted or do not wish to participate in Early Conciliation. This certificate will generate a reference number, which will enable the Claimant to submit a claim to Tribunal if desired.
  4. If either employee or employer does not wish to participate in Early Conciliation they should notify the LRA when the Early Conciliation Support Officer makes their initial contact. Whilst it is mandatory to register a potential claim with LRA it is entirely voluntary as to whether either party participates in Early Conciliation or whether they resolve the matter by way of Tribunal proceedings.

At Millar McCall Wylie our specialist Employment Team provides support and guidance to both Employers and Employees as well as representation in the Industrial Tribunal & Fair Employment Tribunal. Our team recognise that litigation is not always the solution and take the time to understand your concerns so that we can identify the best outcome for you.

Should you require advice on recruitment and selection, unfair dismissal, TUPE, contractual rights, disciplinary and grievance procedures, redundancy, discrimination or compromise agreements please get in touch with us.

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