Authority seeks to keep investigations moving, with online assistance | Employment Law Update April

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Reminding parties and representatives that the statutory requirements for personal grievances to be raised within 90 days, and for a grievance to be pursued within three years, remained unchanged during the COVID-19 restrictions, on 2 April 2020 the Employment Relations Authority gave an update to the advice it had given on 24 March 2020 that:

  • It had postponed all investigation meetings scheduled for dates up to and including 24 April 2020.

  • Authority Members would consider whether investigations of some matters could continue in the interim through use of telephone conference or audio-visual link, or alternatively be decided by written evidence and written submissions only.

  • Parties could still lodge new applications online.

  • Parties should still follow timetable directions already made in relation to meetings either scheduled for the period of the lockdown or afterwards. This would enable matters to resume more quickly once the alert level was reduced sufficiently for new dates for face-to-face investigation meetings to be set. Parties or their representatives should contact the Authority if there were difficulties meeting those directions.

  • Authority staff remain available by email and telephone.

  • The Authority would contact parties or their representatives about currently scheduled cases and whether they could be progressed by alternative means.

In its update, the Authority advised that:

  • Because of difficulties in relying on post and courier delivery during the restrictions, respondents’ capacity to reply within 14 days might be compromised. Authority Officers would endeavour to contact respondents to advise them of the application and to arrange delivery of the statement of problem by email. Applicants and representatives were encouraged to ensure their applications included known phone numbers and email addressed for respondents. If service could not be accomplished thus, service would be deferred until restrictions were lifted.

  • Where an investigation meeting was continuing “on the papers”, by telephone or video connection, witnesses can affirm their written statements by telephone or video connection.

  • Affidavits, which would normally be required to be sworn in front of a solicitor, JP or court registrar, may now be affirmed by telephone or video connection.

  • Parties must comply with an Authority direction to take part in mediation. Employment Mediation Services are continuing to provide services via telephone and video connection.