WRC developments

March 2017

The setup of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on 1 October 2015 brought in a new wave of dispute resolution mechanisms in Ireland. All first instance complaints now go to an Adjudication Officer and then, on appeal, to the Labour Court. Below is a summary of developments since then.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has published a work programme of the activities that it intends to carry out in 2017.

The WRC published its first full year progress and commentary report in October 2016. The progress report sets out the work undertaken by the WRC in its first full year of operation. It outlines the achievements to date and the progress made against longer-term targets.

It also identifies trends emerging in dispute resolution, adjudication, labour inspection, and enforcement. According to the report, 69% of calls are from employees across a broad range of industries, with 35% of calls in relation to employment permits. The remainder of the calls include topics such as terms of employment, payment of wages and unfair dismissals.

The WRC published its first progress and commentary report since its establishment as a ‘one stop shop’ for the submission of employment complaints in March 2016. The report outlines the work undertaken and progress made by the Commission and insights into the organisation's activity.

It also identifies the trends emerging in dispute resolution, adjudication, labour inspection, and enforcement. According to the report, 71% of the 31,307 calls received by the WRC were from employees. 31% of calls were in relation to employment permits while 17% were about working hours. The remainder of the calls include topics such as terms of employment, payment of wages and unfair dismissals.

The report outlines significant improvements to waiting times both for a hearing and the issuing of decisions as well as a reduction in the backlog of equality cases. All good news for users of the service.

A Stakeholder Framework was under consideration by the Board of the WRC, which would ensure that all users of the service can provide feedback which would improve the quality and efficiency of the overall service. CIPD Ireland welcomes this framework and looks forward to it becoming operational.

Overall early feedback on the newly established Commission is positive and we in CIPD Ireland are looking forward to future collaborations with the team in the WRC.

The WRC presented its first full year Annual Report to Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business on 22 March 2016. Some of the main highlights are:

  • Almost 15,000 complaints were processed by the WRC Adjudication Service
  • €1.5 million in unpaid wages were secured for workers
  • The addition of 5 new regional hearing venues during 2017
  • 75% of Adjudication complaints are now heard within 5 months

The WRC presented its first Annual Report covering the period from its establishment on 1 October 2015 to 31 December 2015 to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD in August 2016.

The same month, the Minister has presented the 2015 Annual Report of the Labour Court to the government.

Guide to employment, labour and equality law

The WRC has published a new Guide to employment, labour and equality law which provides an overview of the role and services of the Commission, employment rights and equality legislation in Ireland as well as the adjudication redress provisions. The guide will be useful for both employees and employers alike.

Employment law explained

The WRC has also published Employment law explained, a booklet summarising the rights and obligations under employment, equality and employment permit legislation. The booklet complements the more detailed Guide to employment, labour and equality law mentioned above. The publication will be particularly useful to existing employers and to those who plan to set up a business.

WRC procedures for investigating and adjudicating employment and equality complaints

The procedures explain:

  • Making a case
  • Time limits
  • The need for statements by complainants (employees) and respondents (employers)
  • Mediation
  • The hearing and decision

WRC appeals process and hearings

This guidance covers:

  • The Labour Court appeals process and hearings
  • Unfair Dismissal appeals and the 42 day time limit
  • The Labour Court appeals eForm

Labour Court ways of working

This guidance documents:

  • How the Labour Court works
  • The issues it deals with under which legislation
  • How it deals with a dispute
  • Referral methods, including Adjudication Officer appeals and time lines

Labour Court submissions

This guidance gives

  • Guidelines on preparing a submission
  • Sample submissions

Guide to inspections

The WRC has published a Guide to inspections, which sets out guidance for employers as to how an inspection is undertaken by WRC Inspectors, their powers and the records to be made available.

The WRC moved to new headquarters in November 2016. For the first time this office will enable all of the dispute resolution bodies of the State to be located under one roof in Lansdowne House. CIPD Ireland wishes the WRC well in their new location and is looking forward to future collaboration with the team.

Congratulations to Oonagh Buckley on her appointment to the position of Director General of the WRC. Oonagh was Assistant Secretary on Pay and Pensions Policy in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Oonagh shared great insights into public sector pay reform at the CIPD Pay and Performance seminar in 2016.

Kevin Foley, former deputy Chairman of the Labour Court, has been appointed as Chairman of the Court.

CIPD Ireland would like to wish both Oonagh and Kevin well in their new roles.