The Workplace Relations Act 2015

Employment Law

30 November 2015 by McKeever Solicitors
The Workplace Relations Act 2015

The Workplace Relations Act 2015 (“the Act”) commenced 1 October. The Act provides for changes to the bodies and procedures concerning resolution, mediation and adjudication of industrial disputes and complaints about breaches in employment legislation.

What you should know

  • Why? Major reform of the State’s employment rights and industrial relations structures;
  • When? Commenced on 1st October, 2015;
  • What? The former five State bodies have been replaced by two. The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) will deal with all cases at first instance, with appeals going to a new expanded Labour Court;
  • Interim measures. Complaints lodged after 1st October, 2015 will go to the WRC. The LRC and EAT will be dissolved when legacy first instance complaints and appeals referred to them prior to the 1st October 2015 have been disposed of;
  • Time limits. Time limits the same for all first instance claims and all appeals across the full range of employment rights legislation. Claims are to be lodged within 6 months of the breach, extendable to 12 months for reasonable cause. Appeals must be lodged within 42 days of the decision being appealed;
  • Complaint Form. A single user-friendly online Complaint Form to be completed for one or multiple claims, by selecting from a drop-down menu of options, namely :-
    • Pay
    • Hours of Work
    • Terms and Conditions of Employment
    • Unfair Dismissal
    • Industrial Relations Issues
    • Discrimination / Equality / Equal Status
    • Penalisation
    • Whistleblowers
    • Redundancy / Insolvency
    • Protection of Young Persons at Work
    • Minimum Notice
    • Transfer of Undertakings
    • Fixed Term and Part Time Work
    • Parental, Carers, Maternity and Adoptive Leave
    • Agency Working
  • Early Resolution Service. In simpler cases, to resolve disputes at an early stage and without recourse to inspection or a hearing, a voluntary and confidential Early Resolution Service will be offered by Case Resolution Officers which will not impact or delay any inspection or hearing;
  • Mediation Service. In more complex cases, to resolve disputes at an early stage and without recourse to a hearing, a voluntary and confidential Mediation Service involving face-to-face mediation will be offered by Mediation Officers, which will not impact or delay any hearing;
  • WRC. All claims will be dealt with in a single private hearing before one WRC Adjudication Officer at the WRC. Parties may represent themselves or choose to be represented. It is possible in some cases, if the parties are in agreement, to avoid an oral hearing and have the case decided on the basis of written submissions. Otherwise submissions are taken from the parties but evidence is no longer taken under oath. The Adjudication Officer can summons witnesses and order production of documents to the hearing. WRC decisions will be anonymised and published on the WRC website;
  • Appeal to Labour Court. All appeals go to the Labour Court except for Equal Status Acts complaints which are appealed to the Circuit Court. A Labour Court appeal will be a ‘de novo’ (fresh) hearing, held in public save where the complaint is one that raises confidential or sensitive issues. Decisions of the Labour Court will be published on the WRC website;
  • Appeal to High Court. A Labour Court determination may only be appealed on a point of law. Such appeal would be to the High Court. Judicial review remains an option;
  • Enforcement. Inspectors have been given wider powers and Compliance Notices and Fixed Charge Penalty Notices have been introduced. If a WRC decision is not appealed or implemented after 56 days, an application may be made by or on behalf of the Complainant to the District Court for an enforcement Order. If a Labour Court determination is not appealed or implemented after 42 days, an application may be made by or on behalf of the Complainant to the District Court for an enforcement Order. Failure to pay a compensation award is an offence and does, in the absence of proof of financial hardship, expose an employer to the risk of a Class A fine or up to 6 months in prison, or both;
  • Public information. Single website (www.workplacerelations.ie) providing comprehensive information on employment, equality and industrial relations matters;

Copyright © McKeever Solicitors, 30th November 2015.

This article is a general summary on the subject and is not intended to be a thorough review or a complete statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be sought on a case by case basis. For further information please contact Andrew Clarke or Ciara Meskell.

Key Contacts

Andrew Clarke
Solicitor

IFSC, Dublin
Andrew also advises on corporate structures, mergers and acquisitions, particularly in the Charity sector, company law compliance and corporate governance.

T: +353 (0) 1 670 2990

F: +353 (0) 1 670 2988

E: aclarke@mckr.ie

Ciara Meskell
Solicitor

IFSC, Dublin
Ciara specialises in commercial litigation and employment law, with an emphasis on the financial sector.

T: +353 (0) 1 670 2990

F: +353 (0) 1 670 2988

E: cmeskell@mckr.ie