The WRC has recently published its Annual Report. Here at ISME, we wanted to save you the time of reading the comprehensive report released by the WRC and instead give you an overview of the aspects of the activities of the WRC that may be of interest to you. The number of hearings and decisions processed by the Workplace Relations Commission last year soared by nearly 30%, as the pandemic became less impactful on case scheduling.
6,263 complaint applications encompassing 12,790 individual complaints were received by the WRC in 2022, a decrease of 4.5% and 6.5% respectively compared to 2021. The main types of complaints were as follows:
- Pay (3,363) – by far the main complaint received by the WRC
- Discrimination/Equality/Equal Status (1,851)
- Unfair Dismissal (1,518)
- Working time (1,470); – Breaches of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
- Terms & Conditions (1,222)
- Trade Disputes/Industrial Relations (1,176)
Second on the list being Equality which is increasing year on year in recent years. Under this particular legislation the most notable complaints were in first place Age − incredibly a 176% increase on 2021. Given the grey area that is now retirement age for working in Ireland, this is no big surprise. Next was under Disability and finally Gender.
The WRC conducts hearings “in person” and “remotely” with an average of 70% being “in-person” and 30% conducted remotely. A total of 4,253 hearings were held in 2022. This is an increase of 28% of the 3,320 hearings held in 2021.
In 2022, 1,546 cases were selected for mediation, 658 of these cases progressed to full mediation where both parties agreed to participate. This represents an increase in participation by 31% compared to 2021 and the number of cases resolved by mediation also increased by 30%.
Something of note here for employers is the reminder that the WRC provides two distinct forms of mediation service: pre-adjudication mediation (face-to-face and by telephone) to assist with the resolution of a specific complaints referred to the WRC, and workplace mediation to resolve ongoing interpersonal issues between persons or groups of persons. The latter can be applied for by all employers that require the service.
A total of almost 2,000 decisions were issued in 2022, which is an increase of 27% compared to 2021. In 2022, the WRC was notified of 310 Labour Court decisions in relation to appeals from the WRC. Of the decisions made, 166 were upheld, 70 varied, 68 were overturned and 6 failed.
Most notable cases
- Ray Walsh v Econocom Digital Finance Ltd
Legislation: Unfair Dismissals Act 1977-2015, Redundancy Payments Act 1967-2022, Consultation, Unfair Procedures
Complainant was made redundant in July 2020 according to the Respondent due to the closure of the company’s sales operation in Dublin. In April 2020 the Complainant was invited to a Microsoft Teams Meeting with the Managing Director and HR Director to advise that his job was redundant. There was no Consultation Process prior to this meeting.
Learning from Case: Engagement of the employee in the Redundancy Process is the cornerstone of fair process.
€120,000 compensation awarded to the complainant. This equates to 1 year’s salary.
- Administrator v Golf Club
Legislation: Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Employment Equality Acts 1998-2021
Alleged that there were 23 incidents of consistent unwelcome comments. Jokes, gestures and contact of a sexual and private nature by the General Manager that caused her offence and humiliation. Evidence corroborated by 2 co-workers.
Learning from Case: Definition of Sexual Harassment is key and as per Section 14A of the above act which defines sexual harassment as “unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct which is of a sexual nature. The intention of the Perpetrator is irrelevant.”
The duty of employer is to adapt, implement and monitor a comprehensive and effective policy on Sexual Harassment in the workplace. Employer vicariously liable unless such steps which were reasonably practical to prevent sexual harassment are put in place.
€25,000 compensation awarded to the complainant.
The complete WRC Annual Report 2022 can be found on the ISME HR Hub.
If perhaps you require any HR assistance for your business don’t hesitate to contact the HR Team via [email protected] , or alternatively phone 01 6622755 Option 2.