At the launch of the Workplace Relations reform in 2011, the Government stated that its goal was to deliver a world class workplace relations system and infrastructure which would be simple to use, independent, cost effective and impartial. It recently published a strategy document which reflects this ambition and is designed to ensure the delivery of an efficient, cost effective, high quality service to all its stakeholders. It sets out its objectives and goals for the period 2016 – 2018.
Among the objectives set by the strategy are:
- The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) will reduce waiting times with a target of three months from the time of complaint to hearing, with decisions issued on average within four months of complaint being submitted.
- The WRC will target reduced costs to all parties (including the State) by resolution of more complaints outside adjudication. There will be an increased emphasis on early case resolution and mediation.
- Employers will be notified, on average, within 10 working days of the complaint being lodged, thus increasing the possibility of a resolution being reached without the need for any hearing.
- Promote orderly collective bargaining in the private sector and facilitating the resolution of collective disputes in the public sector.
- Enhance dispute resolution service and delivery – by furthering developing and delivering an expert suite of dispute resolution services.
- Provide highest quality “real-time” adjudication – through the delivery of fast efficient processing of cases through registration, hearing and decision. It also highlights the need to ensure high quality and consistency of decisions.
- Drive employment legislation compliance – through promoting an awareness of employment law and adopting a robust approach to prosecutions of contraventions of employment law.
- Develop and enhance enterprise-level workplace relations – through the general aim of promoting positive workplace relations and widening the assistance provided in the resolution of individual grievances and disputes.
- Involve stakeholders on operational aspects of the Workplace Relations services – the strategy proposes establishing a Stakeholder Engagement Framework which will meet on a regular basis to ensure that stakeholder views are considered and acted upon where appropriate.
The strategy document also notes significant improvements in hearing time frames to date with WRC Adjudication Hearings being scheduled within on average 11 weeks at present. In 2014 those bringing cases to the Equality Tribunal had been waiting up to 120 weeks for a hearing, while those that had been going to the Employment Appeals Tribunal had been waiting for over 60 weeks for their case to be scheduled for hearing.