The Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”) was established on 1 October 2015 and has recently published a report on its first six months in operation. The report provides an update on the work undertaken to date, progress made and provides insight into trends emerging in dispute resolution, adjudication, inspections, and enforcement.

Information and Customer Service

  • WRC’s Information Officers dealt with over 31,000 telephone calls.
  • Almost one third (31%) of the calls received concerned work permits. The next most popular topic was working time (17%) and only 5% of phone call queries related to unfair dismissal claims.
  • 71% of calls came from employees and 21% came from employers.

Adjudication

  • 3,470 complaint applications have been received by the WRC comprising of 6,655 individual complaints. 200 decisions have been issued and published on the WRC’s website.
  • The average waiting time for hearing disputes is now three months and decisions are being issued within an average of 40 days.
  • The back log of legacy employment equality cases has been reduced by a third while their waiting time has been cut from 104 weeks to 53 weeks.

Mediation

  • It is stated that 620 complainants selected and were offered mediation services by the WRC. Of these complaints, it is reported that 344 mediations actually took place and 337 complaints closed during the mediation process.

Conciliation

  • 523 referrals were received by the Conciliation Service, 79 of which were referred to the Labour Court.
  • High profile cases during the period involved Irish Life, Irish Rail, Tesco, Central Mental Hospital, Irish Water and AIB.

Inspection and Enforcement

  • The Inspection Services received 513 complaints, held that 1,086 Employers were in breach of the relevant legislation and recovered €665,208 in unpaid wages.

This introduction of the WRC was widely welcomed. The “one stop shop” element is undoubtedly an improvement on the previous system which was dysfunctional. However, many practitioners’ experiences suggest the WRC has a long way to go before delivering on the “world class” service initially promised. Disappointment has been expressed by many practitioners around issues like adjournments, inconsistencies in the hearing procedure, management of preliminary issues and the actual availability of mediation. The WRC has specifically acknowledged that some administrative challenges remain, which hopefully will be rectified to ensure greater efficiency for employees and employers alike.

A copy of the full report is available here.