Workplace Relations Commission Review of Decisions and Recommendations in 2020

Shannon Chamber HR is a dedicated HR and Employment Law Support Service for members of Shannon Chamber provided in partnership with Adare Human Resource Management, experts in Employment Law, Industrial Relations, Human Resources and Health & Safety at preferential rates.

In December, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) published its first report that examined complaints made to it from 1st January to 31st December 2020. In that time a total of 1,401 cases covering 3,059 complaints were subject of published decisions.

A total of 8,103 cases were received by the WRC, covering 18,969 complaints. However, not all reached the adjudication stage as some were settled, withdrawn, referred for mediation or were pending or adjourned. Therefore, the report refers only to those cases that had final decisions published during 2020.

Breakdown of complaints

In terms of the complaints received by the WRC, 577 were made under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1977. In second place, 454 complaints were made under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 followed by 354 complaints made under the Industrial Relations Act 1969.

Of the 3,059 specific complaints made, 227 were withdrawn. Therefore, 2,832 were adjudicated upon during the year. 1,237 of these were successful while the remainder, 1,595, were unsuccessful giving a success rate (for the complainant) of 43.68% (excluding withdrawn complaints).

One interesting finding in the report relates to those complainants who had third party representation. The report highlights that just over half (51%) complainants self-represented at their hearing while 41.6% had representation. For respondents, 52% had third-party representation at their hearing. Of these, 145 respondents had external HR representation.

Awards made to complainants

In 2020, a total of €5,152, 152.37 was awarded by the WRC to complainants with an overall average award of €5,117.42. For 181 complaints, a non-financial award was made, which means a course of action was the recommendation.

The highest average award made was €19,753.57 and was made under the Employment Equality Act 1998. This was followed by the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 at €16,220.

The single highest award made, under the Employment Equality Act, was €117,814 and concerned a complaint made about gender discrimination. The next highest award was made under the Unfair Dismissals Act and was for €104,000.


This is the first of its kind report by the WRC that closely examines the complaints from 2020 and contains some interesting information for Employers. Specifically the average awards made under specific Acts, giving some indication of how the WRC adjudicates on certain matters, particularly if an Employer finds themselves in the WRC. Also interesting is the representation breakdown with the majority of complainants representing themselves in the WRC.

Our advice to any Shannon Chamber member who may find themselves invited to the WRC is to seek out the appropriate expert advice at the earliest possible time. Preparation is key as is the right advice and guidance. Our expert-led team is available at any time to provide the support required, including drafting submissions, engaging with trade unions, solicitors, the WRC and Labour Court, overseeing and managing the entire process.

Why Shannon Chamber HR?

  • Access to solutions-focused advice and support on HR and Employment Law queries for your Organisation provided by the experienced expert-led team at Adare Human Resource Management, giving you peace of mind that you can effectively manage any employment or HR issues that may arise. For information on the full range of services and supports provided, click here.

For further information on the HR and Employment Law support services provided, to arrange a meeting or to receive a quote, contact the team at Shannon Chamber – / 061 475 854.