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Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD has published a blueprint document which sets out the proposed shape of the new workplace relations structures that will be in place from the end of this year. It also outlines the new processes and the service standards that will apply.  

According to a press release, issued today by the Department, from the end of this year two statutorily independent bodies will replace the current five. There will be a new single body of first instance to be called the Workplace Relations Commission which will take on the functions of the Labour Relations Commission, the National Employment Rights Authority, the Equality Tribunal and the first instance functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The Labour Court will become the single appeal body for all workplace relations appeals including those currently heard by the EAT.

It is expected that by the end of the year, there will be: One authoritative information source; a focus on assisting employers and employees to help them avoid and resolve disputes in the workplace; an Early Resolution Service to facilitate resolution of disputes without the need to resort to a hearing or inspection; a single Body of First Instance to decide on all complaints, with a single route to appeal; common time limits for lodging complaints and appeals; a just, fair and efficient adjudication service with a target period of three months from the time of complaint to hearing; written, reasoned and published decisions; and new compliance mechanisms.

The Blueprint also provides a further opportunity for stakeholders to provide their views on the detailed design. Dialogue on the Blueprint will inform further drafting of the Workplace Relations Bill to give effect to the reform and to is be published in Autumn of this year.

The Minister expressed his satisfaction with the substantial progress which has been achieved in the Reform Programme to date including the Workplace Relations Single Point of Contact, the Single Complaint Form, the interim Workplace Relations Website, ( and the Pilot Early Resolution Service.  

Observations on the Blueprint are sought by April 30 2012.