Labour relations officers play a specialised role in the field of human resources. They are involved in collective bargaining processes, they develop and implement labour policies, and they provide guidance to HR personnel to ensure compliance with laws and contracts.
Labour relations officers can be seen as the liaisons between employers and employees. The work they do within organisations is mostly confidential and often entails extensive communication between various internal and external parties.
Here are a few tasks that labour relations officers are responsible for:
Participating in collective bargaining processes
One of the duties of a labour relations officer is to participate in collective bargaining processes. These processes deal with forming legally binding agreements that result from negotiations between employers, trade unions (representing employees), and relevant employers’ organisations in relation to workers’ terms and conditions of employment.
The labour relations officer is responsible for dealing with disputes that arise during these processes and for ensuring that all parties understand all the information in the collective bargaining agreements.
Developing labour-related policies
Depending on the needs of an organisation, the labour relations officer can be tasked with developing and overseeing the implementation of various labour-related policies. These are usually developed around some of the following aspects of employment:
- Code of conduct
- Working conditions
- General policy on working hours, remuneration, overtime and leave days<
- Health and safety
- Conflict resolution
- Complaints and disciplinary processes
Developing and implementing labour-related policies is important, because these policies communicate the expectations of the employer to the employees, keep the employer in compliance with labour law, and protect the employer and its employees.
Advising HR on labour-related matters
Because labour relations officers have extensive knowledge on labour-related issues and processes, they are in the best position to advise the human resources department. They have the ability to help maintain a stable relationship between employer and employees. Some of the matters they may advise on are the following:
- Contractual matters
- Labour disputes and complaints
- Employment policies
Skills needed by labour relations officers
Labour relations officers handle important duties that directly affect the employers, external parties, and employees. Apart from studying towards a career in this field, there are a number of skills prospective labour relations officers need to develop if they want to be effective in this role. Here are a few examples:
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Good time management skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Organisational skills
- Objectivity and trustworthiness
A typical day in the life of a labour relations officer, although this may differ depending on the organisation and industry, may involve the following:
- Investigating new complaints and checking on ongoing cases
- Monitoring the adherence to labour agreements between the employer and employees.
- Arranging and attending meetings with employees, unions, and other relevant parties for contract negotiations.
- Interpreting and explaining contracts and agreements to employees and the employer to prepare for engagement on these.
- Mediating discussions between relevant parties and proposing resolutions to any disputes.
- Preparing communication on labour-related activities and any relevant changes that may have been agreed upon.
- Investigating employee matters such as disciplinary actions, suspensions and terminations of contracts.
Labour relations officers play a crucial role in maintaining a good relationship between the employer and the employees. They ensure that all parties are treated fairly according to the relevant labour laws and that information regarding labour relations is understood by all and is easily available. This role is also crucial for HR, as labour relations officers contribute knowledge that helps to ensure the smooth running of employment-related processes within an organisation.
Labour relations officers are good communicators, they are trustworthy, and they always conduct themselves in an objective and impartial fashion.