Most junior and middle-level HR roles will have some exposure to employee relations and equal opportunities procedures.
The most common route in is to specialise after gaining a few years generalist experience as an HR adviser or manager. A general CIPD qualification will be an advantage.
What it involves
With the increase in employment and equal opportunities legislation, the need for HR professionals specialising in these areas is increasing. Typically, industries with a large workforce, such as retail or manufacturing, tend to have a greater need for professionals within this area.
Most large organisations will have an HR professional responsible for ensuring compliance with legislation and that there is a harmonious, non-discriminatory relationship between management and employees.
Responsibilities for employee and industrial relations officers include:
Providing advice and guidance to management on employment law, disciplinary and grievance cases, policy development and trade union consultation.
Solving disputes with unions/management where applicable.
Dealing with grievance and discipline issues.
Responsibilities for equal opportunity officers will include:
Developing and implementing equal opportunity plans, policies and procedures.
Advising the management team on legislation.
Ensuring a stable and effective framework for the conduct of fair employer/employee relations.
Ensuring no discrimination exists in the organisation.
Educating staff on diversity and inclusion.
Gaining on-the-job experience is the best way to progress, gradually increasing your knowledge and exposure to complex issues and cases.