Labour Relations Agency


Patricia Coulter

Employment Relations Officer
Labour relations Agency
Patricia Coulter receives her Outstanding Achievement Award for Employment Law at the DMS Ireland Awards Formal 2012. Also pictured, Paul Gillen of Sponsor Pinsent Masons and Lynn Carson of DMS Ireland.


Number of years with the company:
I have worked with the Labour Relations Agency for over 19 years. Prior to that, I worked as a Graduate Manager in the Personnel Department of Harland & Wolff, followed by a 5 year period as Personnel Manager in Northern Ireland Railways.
Brief Description of what the organisation does:
The Labour Relations Agency was established in 1976 as a Non-Departmental Public Body with responsibility for promoting the improvement of employment relations in Northern Ireland. It is independent of Government and is funded mainly in the form of a grant from the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL). The Agency provides an impartial and confidential employment relations service to those engaged in industry, commerce and the public services. The Agency's services include the provision of advice on good employment practices and assistance with the development and implementation of employment policies and procedures. The Agency is also active in resolving disputes through its conciliation, mediation and arbitration services.
Brief Description of your role within the organisation:
My initial years in the Labour Relations Agency were spent as a Conciliation Officer where my main responsibilities were to assist parties to resolve disputes which had been lodged, or were about to be lodged, to the tribunal. More recently, I have worked closely with Employers and Trade Unions, providing training, advice and support in relation to good employment practice within organisations. This service is primarily delivered via seminars and workshops providing information and advice on how to manage Stress, Bullying, Absence, Redundancy, Social Media and many other topical issues. I also review and advise on employment -related documentation to ensure compliance with legislation and good practice. My role also involves working closely with other statutory agencies such as the Equality Commission for NI and Health & Safety Executive for NI to deliver training jointly.
Why did you choose to embark on the Award in Employment Law?
I was delighted to have the opportunity to undertake accredited training which was based on Northern Ireland Employment Law. Working within the Labour Relations Agency, I have to ensure that my knowledge of legislation and developing case law is always up to date. Many of the formal training opportunities in these areas are based on GB legislation. As the NI legislative framework changes and increasingly diverges from GB, it is particularly important that practitioners here can access training which is directly relevant.
I had just completed quite challenging training to become an accredited mediator earlier in the year and felt ready to undertake further accredited study. I love the work I do and have a genuine interest in employment law so I saw this as a perfect opportunity to further improve my skills and knowledge and receive formal certification for doing so.
How did the Award in Employment Law help you in your role the workplace?
I believe that training not only improves knowledge and effectiveness within the organisation but also rekindles an enthusiasm and interest in the subject matter. There is no doubt that the Advanced Award in Employment Law has done this for me.
How has your organisation benefited from you completing the Award in Employment Law?
Knowledge and the application of that knowledge are central to my effectiveness as an Employment Relations Officer within the LRA. The knowledge gained from undertaking this training and the successful completion of it, have assisted me to continue meeting the levels of professionalism and competence required for effective delivery of the Agency services.
How would you describe your experience working with DMS?
DMS were a great organisation to work with! The quality of teaching delivered by Paul was excellent and the supporting documentation was of a very high standard and easy to use. Lynn provided much needed support, assistance and encouragement throughout.
Undertaking the Advanced Award in Employment Law was a very positive experience for me. It was directly relevant to the work I do and I was able to immediately apply the knowledge I gained.


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