Page last updated at 20:49 GMT, Monday, 19 November 2012

Reform of employment law

Northern Ireland must not fall behind the rest of the UK in terms of reforming employment law, the DUP's Alastair Ross said, on 19 November 2012.

Mr Ross proposed his party's motion on the legislation. He explained that the Westminster government had undertaken a review of employment law with the aim of reducing the regulatory burden on businesses.

He said it would be "very damaging" if Northern Ireland and Great Britain had two separate regulatory systems as this could be a disincentive for companies to have offices in Northern Ireland.

"We need a clear message that we are not less attractive than other parts of UK, we need to signal to inward investors than Northern Ireland is open for business," he said.

Chris Lyttle of the Alliance Party said his party's amendment highlighted the need for an "efficient and integrated employment law system" that would work in the interests of business, encourage growth in the economy and would attract investment.

Employment committee chairman, Basil McCrea of the UUP, said the motion was about simplifying bureaucracy.

Sinn Fein's Phil Flanagan said: "It is a general and widely held acceptance that we do need a review of employment law".

Pat Ramsey of the SDLP said that as this area was a devolved matter, Northern Ireland "should not simply mirror the laws in Britain".

"We have different economic challenges so we should have this customised to meet our own specific needs," he added.

Responding to the debate, Mr Farry said this was a "critical subject" and he had made a commitment to carry out a review of employment law.

He said it would give full consideration to the law in Great Britain and in the Irish Republic.

Mr Farry said he did not want Northern Ireland to fall behind, but said that this would not necessarily be the result if the changes in Great Britain were not mirrored.

The motion was passed as amended.

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