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Legal updates: Workplace Relations Act 2015

The Workplace Relations Act 2015 provides for a range of changes to the bodies and procedures which deal with:

• The resolution, mediation and adjudication of industrial disputes and

• The resolution of complaints about breaches of employment legislation

It provides for a new Workplace Relations Commission which will take over the functions of the National Employment Rights Authority, the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), some of the functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) and the functions of the Director of the Equality Tribunal. 

The appeal functions of the EAT are being transferred to the Labour Court. In effect, there will be two statutory bodies instead of the current four. The National Employment Rights Authority is not a statutory body. There will be one body – the Workplace Relations Commission – to which all industrial relations, employment law and employment equality disputes and complaints are referred. Appeals will be made to the Labour Court in all cases. Time limits for the making of appeals are being generally standardised.

The Act also provides for a number of changes to a range of employment laws and for new compliance measures. It amends 24 Acts and numerous Statutory Instruments. These amendments do not affect cases which are before a Rights Commissioner or the EAT when the Act comes into effect.

The Act will be commenced on 1 October 2015. Some administrative arrangements have already been put in place in advance of its implementation. For example, there is a central system for receiving complaints which are then referred to the appropriate body and some services are shared by the bodies concerned.