People professionals with responsibility for employees in Northern Ireland must be aware of the employment law differences from the rest of the UK (Great Britain, made up of England, Wales and Scotland). Whilst most employment rights will be the same in Northern Ireland as in Great Britain, there are key differences and the legal references used in relation to these rights (for example in employment contracts and in Compromise Agreements) may be different due to Northern Ireland-specific legislation. Since devolution of employment law powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, we have seen a distinct divergence between employment laws in Northern Ireland and those in Great Britain.
It is also worth noting that as well as employment law, the laws on health and safety at work are also devolved and, therefore, these differ from those in Great Britain. This has, of course, led to differences in the workplace and the return to the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The enforcement agency in Northern Ireland is the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), which is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for the Economy (DfE). The HSENI website has further information regarding the main legislation, codes of practice and guidance applicable in Northern Ireland.
This factsheet for CIPD members provides an introductory overview of the key differences and important areas of employment law. It covers discrimination and promotion of equality, dispute resolution, tribunals and compromise agreements, TUPE, redundancy, working time and holidays, and data protection, as well as other areas. It provides a comparison of the principal Northern Ireland and Great Britain employment laws, and lists codes of practice that apply in Northern Ireland.
On this page
- Devolution and divergence
- Unfair dismissal
- Family-friendly provisions
- Public authority equality duty
- Gender pay gay reporting
- Zero-hours contracts
- Dispute resolution
- Fair employment and industrial tribunals
- Compromise agreements
- Public holidays and working time
- Data protection
- Other employment areas
- Statutory limits
- Comparison of principal Northern Ireland and Great Britain employment law
- Codes of practice
- Useful contacts and further reading
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This factsheet was last updated by Paul Gillen: Pinsent Masons LLP
Paul is a Partner at Pinsent Masons LLP in Belfast and a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, having worked for over 10 years in HR management. He’s also Visiting Professor to the School of Law at Ulster University, a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and an Inclusion and Diversity Ambassador for the IoD. He is a regular speaker on employment law.
Please note: While every care has been taken in compiling this content, CIPD cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. These notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.
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