22nd March, 2017
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) today presented its first full year annual report to Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business.
Some of the main highlights of the WRC Annual Report are as follows:-
- Almost 15,000 complaints were processed by the WRC Adjudication Service
- €1.5 million in unpaid wages were secured for workers
- The addition of 5 new regional hearing venues during 2017
- 75% of Adjudication complaints are now heard within 5 months
Minister Breen welcomed the decision by the WRC to expand the number of its hearing venues through the addition of locations in Donegal, Mayo, Kerry, Monaghan and Kilkenny. “From a rural Ireland perspective, it is important that complainants and respondents do not have to travel long distances to have cases heard and this development is good news for everyone concerned.”
Turning to the Report itself, the Minister said that “the reasons for the setting up of the WRC are well known: to simplify the institutional framework from a user point of view, to speed up the delivery of decisions on individual complaints around employment and industrial relations matters, to bring about increased employer compliance with employment rights legislation while, at the same time, maintaining the exceptional ability of the bodies to resolve collective and individual disputes. This Report presents clear evidence that this decision was the right one.”
In this regard, the Minister pointed out that 75% of adjudication complaints are now heard within five months, whereas prior to the establishment of the WRC, complainants could be waiting two years for a hearing. “This is very important in terms of the speedy delivery of justice for all concerned and this outcome was a cornerstone of the reform process”.
He went on to say “I know that the WRC is working to bring about a situation whereby decisions on all complaints are issued within a six month period and this Report shows real progress towards achieving that goal.”
At the same time, the Minister noted that the Inspection arm of WRC had secured some €1.5 million for people in terms of unpaid wages and delivered increased compliance with employment legislation on the part of employers. “This work of the WRC often goes unnoticed, but for people who rely on Government bodies such as the WRC to make sure their rights are upheld it is a very important service Minister Breen also expressed his thanks to the staff of the WRC for their continued hard work and dedication over the last twelve months.
Speaking at the launch, Ms. Oonagh Buckley, Director General of the WRC, acknowledged that the early stages of the WRC had proved challenging “but we are clearly on the right track in achieving our objective and that of the Government of being a world class workplace relations service”.
“We are second to none in terms of voluntary dispute resolution, we have put in place an adjudication service that processes almost 15,000 complaints a year – many of them complex and sensitive – within a shorter timeframe than was the case before our establishment. Every year we are reaching approximately 1 in 6 employees in the low wage sectors to ensure that employment rights are upheld and we are actively assisting employers and employees in delivering harmonious workplaces”.
Ms. Buckley concluded by saying “it is fair to say that this has not always been easy, but the support of the Minister and the Department, and indeed our stakeholders, has been central to our success to date”.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Paul Duffy, Chairman of the WRC Board, acknowledged the first full year annual report and is looking forward to working closely with the Commission in 2017.
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