The act in which the ways a dispute between employers and employee can be referred to the industrial relations machinery of the State is contained in The Industrial Relations Acts 1946 to 2012. This machinery operates in the following ways:
- When the dispute is between individuals, the Rights Commissioner addresses these disputes.
- Collective disputes are addressed by the different branches of the Labour Relations Commission and
- The Labour Court handles appeals from both Rights commissioners and the Labour Relations Commission.
Under the Industrial Relations Acts 1946 to 2012, the Labour Court’s jurisdiction in disputes is limited to issuing recommendations which are intended to resolve disputes. These recommendations are generally not enforceable by law, although there are some exceptions to this.
The Labour Court has jurisdiction under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001 (as amended) to issue determinations which are enforceable, and this jurisdiction is exercised in very specific circumstances. For this jurisdiction to be exercised, the Court must satisfy that the relevant employer does not engage in any collective bargaining negotiations in respect of the grade, category or group of workers who are party to the dispute. The procedure under this legislation is an alternative to, not an addition to, the practice of collective bargaining negotiations.
In cases where the Court can hear a case under his jurisdiction, the Court can make a determination which can be the same as an injunction. This determination may mandate an employer to change the terms and conditions of employment of the grade, group or category of workers. When arrangements of collective bargaining are involved, the Court may not make a determination. Determinations made by the Labour Court are enforceable in the Circuit Court.