Labour relations specialists act as a liaison between management and employees. They negotiate collective bargaining contracts that cover issues such as salaries, healthcare and pension.
Labour relations specialists meet with union representatives and investigate labour grievances. They interpret formal communications for management and provide training on labour relations.
Duties and responsibilities
- Negotiate collective bargaining contracts, including salary, healthcare, pension and management issues
- Communicate with management, union representatives and government on labour relations matters
- Draft contract proposals and counterproposals related to collective bargaining agreements
- Collaborate with company, employee representatives and government to draft rules for bargaining
- Present the position of employees or the company at arbitration and other labour meetings
- Interpret formal communications and contracts for employers and employees during bargaining
- Ensure HR policies match collective bargaining agreement language
- Monitor company and workforce adherence to labour contracts
- Investigate and evaluate union grievances, mediate discussions between two groups
- Train managers and supervisors on labour relations issues, including working conditions
- Review employee disciplinary actions, prepare evidence and witnesses for hearings
- Provide expert testimony on labour relations or contracts in any legal court proceedings
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Standard business hours
Labour relations specialists usually work for labour unions and similar organisations. Positions as representatives of government or management are also available.
Specialists work full-time during regular office hours. Overtime may be required when resolving disputes or to meet a contract deadline. You will usually travel to several locations to meet with workforce representatives and management on contract and arbitration issues.
Work as a labour relations specialist can be stressful, particularly during tense negotiations.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in labour or employment relations
Many labour relations specialists have a bachelor's degree in labour relations or employment relations. Other widely accepted degrees include human resources, industrial relations or business.
Most employers prefer candidates with previous experience in human resources. You can solidify your expertise by getting certified in specific areas of labour relations like collective bargaining and contract administration. Certification is typically available from colleges and universities with labour relations or law degree programmes.
An ongoing decline in union membership is changing the type of opportunities in the labour relations market. Though there may be less union contract negotiation in future, non-union businesses are still hiring specialists to handle employee–management relations. Gaining HR and employment law experience can also land you a specialist role in insurance companies, employee placement agencies and the government.
Some labour relations specialists choose to delve further into the legal profession by becoming a lawyer. You will first need to achieve a law degree and pass your state's bar exam.