Workplace Relations Early Resolution Sevice A User’s Guide
What is the Early Resolution Service (ERS)?
This is a new service whereby the parties to a complaint/claim/referral to the Rights Commissioner Service, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), the Labour Court or to the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) may be offered neutral and impartial third party assistance to resolve the issue in dispute without the need for a formal adjudication or inspection.
The ERS is a conciliation/mediation type service which is provided by Case Resolution Officers (CROs) based in Tom Johnson House, Haddington Road, Dublin 4. If your complaint/claim/referral is selected the Early Resolution Service (ERS) will provide a prompt intervention which will initially involve contacting the parties, or their representatives, to secure their agreement to participate on a voluntary basis in early resolution. Using telephone and email communication the CROs will explore possible avenues of settlement in a non-prejudicial fashion.
Where the parties decline to use the service or where the attempt at settlement is unsuccessful within the set period of six weeks the complaint/claim/referral will be processed in the normal course through the relevant adjudication service to arrange a-formal hearing or inspection.
How does the ERS work?
All first instance complaints/claims/referrals to the Rights Commissioner Service, the EAT, the Labour Court or NERA, are received and registered by the Workplace Relations Customer Services of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The ERS offers an early intervention in a range of these claims/referrals. Cases selected for early resolution are assigned to a Case Resolution Officer.
If your complaint/claim/referral is selected a Case Resolution Officer will contact the parties or their representatives within a day or two leading, hopefully, to a solution that both sides find acceptable instead of going to a formal adjudicative hearing or inspection. Case Resolution Officers will not impose solutions, but will explore the issues involved and try to help settle differences in a way that is acceptable to all parties concerned.
Key features of the Service
Case Resolution Officers are impartial and neutral.
In order to help reach a settlement, the officer will talk through the issues with both sides and explore whether a solution can be found. Agreement to use the service is entirely voluntary.
The Case Resolution Officer will:
- Explain the early resolution process leading, hopefully, to agreement by both sides to become involved.
Help establish the facts at issue and discuss the options open.
- Help each party to understand how the other side views the case and explore with them how it might be resolved without a formal hearing/inspection.
- Discuss any proposals the either side has for a settlement.
The Case Resolution officer will not:
- Represent either the employer or the employee, take sides or help either side prepare their case.
- Give legal advice.
- Give an explicit opinion on the merits of a claim or advise on tactics, or how to win at a formal hearing.
- Make a judgement on the case, or the likely outcome of a formal hearing/inspection.
- Advise on whether or not to accept any proposals for settlement.
- Pressurise people to settle or abandon a case.
The service is confidential.
- Information will not be passed to other parties without your agreement.
- What you say during discussions with the Case Resolution Officer cannot be used or referenced as evidence at a hearing.
The service is independent.
- It is entirely separate from the Rights Commissioner Service, the EAT, the Labour Court and NERA and if a settlement is not reached, a complaint/claim/referral will still fall to be considered through the relevant adjudication process or, where appropriate, by means of inspection. There will be no communication on the case or matters discussed at early resolution between the ERS and these bodies.
- The service does not delay the EAT, Labour Court, Rights Commissioner or Inspection processes.
The service is free.
Why use the Early Resolution Service?
- Saves time and money. Preparing or responding to a formal hearing can take a great deal of time, and could have associated representational costs.
- Minimises stress. Almost everyone finds the process of pursuing or defending a case difficult, and appearing at a formal hearing can be a stressful experience.
- Quick Solution. Cases can be dealt with in a few telephone calls or in exceptional cases via tripartite meetings with agreed settlements implemented very soon afterwards.
- Win-Win Outcome. The singular advantage of the ERS is that it can achieve a “win-win” situation if the parties wish to reach a settlement.
- Control. Settlements are reached by agreement on terms that suit the parties. Innovative and creative solutions are possible which will allow the parties to reach a settlement that meets their particular needs. If advanced to formal hearing or inspection the decision is taken out of the parties’ hands and there may be restrictions on what adjudicative processes can/may award.
- Avoids Formality. Although any of EAT, Labour Court or Rights Commissioner hearing processes are somewhat less ‘formal ‘ and legalistic than most court processes they contain standard procedures with which most people are unfamiliar.
What happens if I settle the claim through the ERS?
If you resolve the claim through the ERS, the terms of the agreement will be recorded in a standard manner and signed by both sides as proof of the agreement.
What happens if something is agreed but one party reneges on agreement terms?
Where parties do reach a settlement via the ERS process, they will be deemed to be bound by the terms of such a settlement. However, where agreements are not honoured within a specific timeframe, the claim/case/referral will be considered in the normal course by the relevant adjudicative body or, where appropriate, by means of inspection.
How long does the early resolution process take?
If you are contacted, and both parties agree to become involved the attempt at early resolution will be completed over a maximum period of 6 weeks. The process is likely to involve a number of relatively short telephone or e-mail interventions with both sides.
Will participating in the Early Resolution Process affect the formal adjudicative /inspection processes if the outcome is unsuccessful?
No. If the early resolution intervention is not successful cases can be slotted back in to the relevant adjudicative or inspection process without any undue time delays.
What if I have a representative?
If you appoint a representative to act for you, the Case Resolution Officer will engage through that representative. It is important to ensure that your representative is fully aware of your requirements and your contact details.
Please contact Workplace Relations Customer Service on 1890 80 80 90 if you require any further information.