Under Section (3) of the Labour Department Act CAP 23 the Chief Labour Officer is mandated to conciliate in disputes between employers and employees. The process is as follows:
- If discussions between the employer and employee breakdown at domestic level, either party (but usually the employees' representative) informs the Labour Department in writing, that a dispute exists between the employer and employee(s) and requests the services of the Chief Labour Officer in the conciliation process.
- A meeting is convened with the agreement of the employer and Union which is chaired by the Chief Labour Officer or his/her representative, who guides the conciliation.
- If attempts at conciliation at this level fail, there is the facility provided for parties to have their matter heard at the next level, conciliated by the Minister of Labour; if the matter remains outstanding it can be referred to the highest level of the Prime Minister, where if efforts at conciliation fail, the parties can, if necessary agree to binding arbitration.
The process is entirely voluntary, with the Chief Labour Officer having no power, to effect or impose a settlement on either side nor to bind either party to decisions made. The Chief Labour Officer's role is to facilitate discussion between the parties beyond the matter which caused the initial breakdown. The office of the Chief Labour Officer is, however, highly respected in this process as that of an experienced industrial relations practitioner.
Disputes are referred to the Department for conciliation on such matters as:
- Collective agreements
- Conditions of Employment