The purpose of the Equality Tribunal is to deal with all complaints of discrimination in employment and access to goods and services under the terms of equality legislation. Reform of the workplace relations institutions will involve the Equality Tribunal in a merger with the Labour Relations Commission, Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) (first instance functions) and National Employment Rights Authority to form a single agency for dealing with first instance complaints. The Labour Court will deal with all appeals (including those currently dealt with by the EAT).
The aim is to deliver a world-class Workplace Relations service and framework that serves the needs of employers and employees and provides maximum value for money. This is a reform that I fully support. The drafting of legislation to give effect to this merger and related practical implementation issues, such as staffing, are as the Deputy will be aware a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation who is currently considering the staffing requirement of the bodies. As is the norm, existing staff of the Equality Tribunal will transfer with the Tribunal to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
The Deputy will be aware that the radical streamlining of State bodies is a key deliverable of the Public Service Reform Plan,which was published in November 2011. While the reforms will deliver savings to the taxpayer, the real benefits lie in the simplification of the administrative landscape, thereby ensuring greater effectiveness, less duplication of effort and more coherent and better quality public service delivery.