Employee relations specialists play a critical role in developing and maintaining trust between an organisation and its employees. By aligning organisational strategy with employee needs, they help develop effective people practices.


What does an employee relations specialist do?

Employee relations focuses on creating and delivering people practices which develop and maintain positive working relationships between an organisation and its people. They also support and advise managers on difficult people issues, and are experts in employment/labour law. In some organisations, this means working closely with trades unions and employee representatives, and negotiating with them to resolve complex people issues.  

Different working environments create different challenges, and so too will the changing circumstances of work. You'll need to understand:

  • the forces that bring about change (from inside and outside an organisation) and the impact these changes can have on people 
  • how to work with employee bodies such as trades unions or employee representative groups 
  • how to align people policies to the employer brand 
  • employment law: how it’s created and how to keep up to date with changes 
  • how to respond when the employment relationship breaks down, while making sure the organisation learns from these experiences. 

A day in the life of an employee
relations specialist

A day in the life of Sarah Telford, HR Case Manager within the Ministry of Justice Civil Service HR Casework team

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Your typical activities

Here are some of the activities you can expect to be involved in as an employee relations specialist.

  • Creating people policies
  • Dealing with complex cases, such as disciplinary grievances and appeals
  • Supporting the organisation through restructures
  • Ensuring engagement is maintained and managers act in a way that involves their staff
  • Managing the relationship between the organisation and unions or employee bodies
  • Managing consultations and negotiations 
  • Dealing with disputes appropriately (for example, mediation or tribunal cases)
  • Ensuring managers are upskilled to deal with people in a fair and effective manner
  • Overseeing all people practices to ensure they are legally compliant.

Types of roles in employee relations

Here is a shortlist of the types of job titles you might find in employee relations. As you can see, employee relations specialists are at all levels of experience and seniority:

  • Employee relations officer
  • Employee relations advisor
  • Employee relations specialist 
  • Employee relations case manager 
  • Employee relations lead 
  • Head of employee relations
  • Director of employee relations

Develop your knowledge in employee relations

Employee relations standards

Each employee relations standard progresses through four levels of impact. Which level do you most embody in your day-to-day work?

Employee relations resources

Understand what employee relations means as a concept and what it means to employers by exploring our resources

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Career options in the
people profession

Explore the twelve career areas within the people profession, and the typical activities you may find yourself doing

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Career guidance

Information and guidance to help you excel in your role, transition into the profession, and manage a career break

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