The Workplace Relations Commission (the “WRC”) has recently published its 2018 Annual Report, which highlights a significant increase in activity compared to previous years. Some key highlights are set out below.
In 2018, the WRC witnessed a significant increase in the uptake of pre-adjudication mediation with 1,844 interventions taking place. Face-to-face mediations increased by 206% compared to 2017, while mediations dealt with by telephone increased by 70% compared to 2017.
15,451 complaints were received by the WRC in 2018, an increase of over 10% compared to 2017. The main types of complaints were as follows:
- pay issues (27%);
- unfair dismissal (14%);
- discrimination / equality (14%);
- working time (13%);
- trade disputes / industrial relations issues (9%); and
- terms and conditions (8%).
In 2018, there were 1,449 equality complaints made, which represents a 116% increase compared to 2017. A considerable increase was witnessed in the number of complaints in relation to age (+343%), religion (+244%) and disability (+43%), while a fall occurred in relation to civil status (33%) and gender (11%).
A total of 5,312 adjudication hearings were held in 2018. This represented an increase of 22% compared to 2017 and an increase of 34% compared to 2016.
The report notes that over 90% of complaints received are processed from receipt of complaint to hearing and decision within six months where there are no requests for postponements, where all parties are available, and where submissions are received in a timely manner.
A total of 2,964 decisions were issued in 2018, which is an increase of 32% compared to 2017 and an increase of 60% compared to 2016.
The report notes that approximately 10% of adjudication decisions are appealed annually to the Labour Court. In 2018, the Labour Court issued 372 appeal decisions.
The WRC carried out 5,753 inspections in 2018 (of which 60% were unannounced). This represented an increase of 20% compared to 2017. Failure to keep adequate employment records continues to be the most common breach of employment legislation.
A number of notable WRC decisions are highlighted in the report. One such decision, A Banker v A Bank (ADJ-00001266), demonstrates the fact that reinstatement may be ordered where the Adjudication Officer finds that a dismissal is unfair, including dismissals for behaviour which the employer perceives as gross misconduct. This decision highlights the fact that an employer will not be able to avoid an order for reinstatement simply by arguing that trust and confidence has broken down from its perspective.
Another notable decision, A Driver v A Furniture Business (ADJ-00010961), found that where a worker earns distinctly more than the national minimum wage, an employer is not obliged to provide a statement of the employee’s hourly rate of pay under Section 23 of the National Minimum Wage Acts 2000 and 2015, and is instead entitled to refer to the employee’s payslips. In this decision, the Adjudication Officer found that bringing the complaint was frivolous and vexatious and therefore the complaint was dismissed.
The full WRC report can be viewed here.
Please feel free to contact Leman Solicitors, should you need any employment law advice.