Why NI employment law needs radical reform


The future of Northern Ireland depends on our economy; on our ability to nurture entrepreneurialism, create jobs and generate wealth. That’s why NI21 Leader Basil McCrea MLA has tabled an amendment to the Employment Bill, due to be debated in the Assembly tomorrow, to increase the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from one year to two years.

The qualifying period for unfair dismissal is the headline policy that signifies a different approach between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. In the search for sustainable investment and high quality jobs in a competitive global market, such a difference is unhelpful.

The proposed change in the law would boost employer confidence for recruitment, attract new investment and open up employment opportunities for those who may lack experience or who have been out of work for some time.

Northern Ireland’s key competitive advantage is the quality of our people, but even high quality people need a start. Too many of our young people cannot get experience and those over the age of fifty find it hard to change career.

We need radical reform in order to encourage new employment, strengthen our economy and move into the 21st Century. In order to get the legislation through, the Minister for Employment and Learning has had to compromise with the major parties; missing the opportunity to address the staggering skills deficit and low productivity rates. By bringing this amendment forward, we hope to force the Assembly to debate the grittier issues rather than voting for a lacklustre piece of legislation.


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