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Business group lays down priorities for Northern Ireland employment law reforms

Laws encouraging better engagement between employers and employees and reforms to the collective redundancy period are among the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Northern Ireland's list of priorities ahead of Executive consultations into employment laws in Northern Ireland.

The CBI Northern Ireland called the consultation an opportunity to 'create an employment framework that encourages job growth and investment' in the country.

Northern Ireland is the only devolved UK country with responsibility for its own employment laws.

According to research from the Northern Ireland Economic Advisory Group, Northern Ireland is currently ranked 45 out of 144 countries for labour market efficiency. Restrictive labour regulations fall in the top four problematic factors in doing business in the country.

Measures the CBI Northern Ireland want to see discussed include:

  • A 'broad protected conversations policy' - allowing better engagement between employers and employees to discuss issues such as succession planning
  • Reforms to the collective redundancy period - moves to align the period closer to the Republic of Northern Ireland and Great Britain's 90 days, creating greater certainty for UK businesses
  • The qualifying period for unfair dismissal - the CBI Northern Ireland is against moves to increase the period to two years' service, believing it would impact the country's ability to attract foreign investment.

In a press release, the CBI said: "Given that many of our businesses operate in more than one jurisdiction, it is vital that decision makers take account of the complexity of the current regulatory environment and that the Northern Ireland Executive accelerates its efforts to ensure we keep pace with competitors in reducing the regulatory burden on business."