Key Differences Between Employment Law in GB and NI [Video]

Posted in : Back to Basics on 24 May 2016
Jill Gracey
A&L Goodbody

Employment law is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. Changes introduced in employment law or practice in Great Britain will not necessarily also be introduced by the Northern Ireland Assembly. There has been a growing divergence in employment laws in practice between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in recent years.

Unfair Dismissal

When we look at unfair dismissal, for example, the general qualifying period of continuous employment required by an individual, who wishes to pursue a claim for unfair dismissal, remains at one year in Northern Ireland, whereas two years of continuous employment is required in Great Britain.

Transcript:

Dispute Resolution Procedures

Also, statutory dispute resolution procedures have not been repealed in Northern Ireland and employers will be required to follow these procedures, including the minimum three-step procedure in cases where the employment of an individual may be terminated.

Similar statutory procedures in GB have been repealed through legislative reform, and therefore the application of statutory dismissal and grievance procedures are in use in the NI jurisdiction.

Equality & Discimination

Taking a look at employment equality then, the position in Northern Ireland departs quite substantially from the position in Great Britain. The Equality Act 2010 has no application in Northern Ireland. Rather, there are various statutes dealing with areas such as race, gender, disability and age discrimination.

The principal legislation relating to employment equality in Northern Ireland is the Fair Employment and Treatment Northern Ireland Order 1998 which is often shortened to FETO. This deals with discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion.

FETO and the protection from discrimination, on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion, has no direct equivalent in Great Britain. The remit of this piece of legislation is considerably wide and has the power to impose obligations and sanctions on employers who fail to meet those standards.

One example of an obligation under FETO is the requirement, for employers with 11 or more employees, to prepare an annual monitoring return form which must be returned to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Another nuance to the jurisdiction in Northern Ireland is the legislation which addresses race discrimination. This piece of legislation specifically protects members of the Traveller community. This protection is not afforded to individuals of the Traveller community in Great Britain.

Tribunal Procedures

Looking at enforcement then the procedure differs again, quite substantially, from the position in Great Britain both in terms of form and process, and also the authorities. There are two main forums of tribunal in Northern Ireland, the first being the Industrial Tribunals. They will deal with matters such as unfair dismissal, redundancy or discrimination, on a number of grounds of protected characteristics.

Looking at enforcement then the procedure differs again, quite substantially, from the position in Great Britain both in terms of form and process, and also the authorities. There are two main forums of tribunal in Northern Ireland, the first being the Industrial Tribunals. They will deal with matters such as unfair dismissal, redundancy or discrimination, on a number of grounds of protected characteristics.

Looking at enforcement then the procedure differs again, quite substantially, from the position in Great Britain both in terms of form and process, and also the authorities. There are two main forums of tribunal in Northern Ireland, the first being the Industrial Tribunals. They will deal with matters such as unfair dismissal, redundancy or discrimination, on a number of grounds of protected characteristics.

The second forum is the Fair Employment Tribunal. The Fair Employment Tribunal will primarily deal with cases relating to discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion.

There is no employment appeal tribunal in Northern Ireland. An appeal of a Northern Ireland tribunal claim will be considered by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal. The Labour Relations Agency, or the LRA, is the Northern Ireland conciliation service and is the Northern Ireland equivalent to ACAS in Great Britain.

The LRA has a statutory duty to try and resolve employment related claims through mediation and conciliation as an alternative to matters proceeding through the tribunals. The LRA does have different powers of authorities to ACAS, and that should be kept in mind by employers.

This article is correct at 24/05/2016
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Jill Gracey
A&L Goodbody

The main content of this article was provided by Jill Gracey. Contact telephone number is +44 28 9031 4466 or email jgracey@algoodbody.com

View all articles by Jill Gracey