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News & Events

Announcement of two new Deputy Chairs of the Labour Court

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, today (Monday) welcomed the outcome of the Public Appointments Service selection process for two new Deputy Chairs of the Labour Court.

Minister Bruton wishes to congratulate Mr Kevin Foley, Director of Conciliation at the Labour Relations Commission and Mr. Alan Haugh BL on their success.

Minister Bruton said: “I expect both Mr. Foley and Mr. Haugh will make an invaluable contribution in the years ahead in these critical leadership positions to a strengthened Labour Court as it takes on additional functions under the Workplace Relations Reform project.”

“The Labour Court has earned the trust and confidence of users of its services since its establishment through the role played by successive Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen and I expect these additional appointments will add to that reputation”.

Minister Nash said: “The Labour Court is situated at the heart of our industrial relations and employment protection system and through its decisions vindicates the rights of employees and helps maintain harmonious industrial relations. I warmly welcome the strengthening of the Court and the skills and experience Kevin Foley and Alan Haugh will bring to the Court.”

The competitive selection process through Public Appointments Service is itself a new initiative which forms part of the comprehensive reform of the state’s workplace relations institutions.

Under the reforms, five bodies are being merged into two – the Labour Relations Commission, the National Employment Rights Authority, the Equality Tribunal, the first instance functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) and the first instance functions of the Labour Court will be incorporated into the new Workplace Relations Commission, and the appellate functions of the EAT will be transferred to the expanded Labour Court.

These appointments are provided for and will be made under the Workplace Relations Bill which is expected to complete its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.

ENDS

For further information:

Press Office, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation 01- 6312200 or press.office@djei.ie

Note for editors:

Mr. Alan Haugh BL specialises in employment and industrial relations law. He was previously Head of Employment Law at IBEC and subsequently Legal Advisor to NERA. Between March 2012 and March 2013, he was seconded on a full-time basis to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to assist with and advise on the preparation of the Workplace Relations Bill and has done so on a part time basis since then. Alan also lectures at DIT, NCI and IT Carlow and is a regular lecturer in employment law on the Law Society's professional practice and CPD courses.

Mr. Kevin Foley is the Director of Conciliation, Workplace Mediations and Early Resolution Services with the Labour Relations Commission. He has operated as a Conciliator and Manager with the Commission since 1991 and has been involved in Labour Affairs in Ireland for over 30 years. Kevin was also involved in many of the major disputes that have occurred in the Irish economy over that period including those relating to the transport, aviation, pharmaceutical, food industry, banking and all major sectors of the Irish economy. He was centrally involved as a facilitator of engagement between Government and Trade Unions leading to the Croke Park and Haddington Road Agreements. He currently chairs the main industrial relations fora in the Health sector and the Construction Sector as well as chairing the ESBIC.

The Labour Court is a quasi-judicial statutory tribunal with responsibility for the investigation of trade disputes and certain other functions under the Industrial Relations Acts 1946-2012. It also has an appellate role in disputes between workers and employers concerning employment rights under various statutes. Currently, approximately 60% of the Court’s caseload arises from referrals under the Industrial Relations Acts and 40% is accounted for by appeals under employment rights legislation.

On the enactment of the Workplace Relations Bill 2014, the Labour Court will become the only appellate tribunal in employment rights disputes, taking over the role currently played by the Employment Appeals Tribunal in hearing appeals under various employment enactments. This will result in a rebalancing of the Court’s work between industrial relations and employment rights referrals and an increase in its caseload. It is estimated that in future approximately 70% of the Court’s caseload will be accounted for by employment rights appeals. The changes in the profile of cases coming before the Court vis-à-vis its overall caseload will not diminish in any way the importance of its role under the Industrial Relations Acts.

The Court fulfils its industrial relations function by providing independent, fair and speedy adjudication in matters of difference between workers and employers. Since its inception the Court has built a strong reputation for impartiality and fair dealing in its investigation of trade disputes and employment rights appeals.

In large measure the Court’s success in that regard is dependent on the trust and confidence which the users of its services have in the Chairman and the Deputy Chairmen of the Court.

Except in relation to certain administrative functions, the Court acts by division. There are currently three divisions of the Court. A division comprises the Chairman or a Deputy Chairman, a worker member and an employer member. The Court is a collegiate body and all members are equal in its decision making processes.

It is proposed to add a new division to the Court and this will involve the recruitment of an additional Deputy Chairman. In addition, under the proposed changes in the Workplace Relations Bill 2014 there will be one further Deputy Chairman to allow for the chair of individual divisions to be rotated in order to free up the Chairman and Deputy Chairmen for drafting and case management while all four divisions continue to sit.

Role of the Deputy Chairman of the Labour Court

The Deputy Chairman’s primary duty, in common with all other members of the Court, is to hear and determine cases assigned to the Division over which he or she presides. The Deputy Chairmen are responsible for managing the divisions of the Court to which they are assigned and ensuring that they dispose of cases fairly, efficiently and within a predetermined timeframe. The Deputy Chairmen are responsible for drafting the decisions of the Court and in facilitating the members of the division in reaching agreement on the outcome of cases coming before the division.