Yes, it’s confusing.
Where to go if your employment rights have been infringed?
Well, there is good news due to the new Workplace Relations Bill, 2014.
And there were big changes introduced on 1st October 2015.
Prior to this there was a wide number of forums available for employees to seek to have their employment rights upheld and vindicated, as set out below.
But now you must go to the new body, the WRC.
It is important to note that the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Rights Commissioner service are not courts of law and cannot award your costs of representation.
Both parties will pay their own costs.
• The Rights Commissioner service
• The Employment Appeals Tribunal
• The Labour Court
• The Labour Relations Commission
• The Equality Tribunal
• The Courts
• The Health and Safety Authority
• The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA)
Here is a brief look at these bodies and their remit. There is also a table below which gives a summary of where to go, the time limit, remedies available, and where appeals can be taken.
Elsewhere on this site you will see the occasions when you have to go to one of these bodies or the other as breaches of various pieces of employment law legislation occurs.
The Rights Commissioner service can deal with transfer of undertakings, unfair dismissals (if there is no objection by either party), health and safety, protection of employment, protection of young persons in employment, protection of fixed term workers, adoptive leave issues, carer’s leave, industrial relations, minimum wages, organisation of working time, terms of employment, payment of wages, parental leave, maternity protection, persons reporting child abuse.
Take a look at the Labour Relations Commission website at www.lrc.ie for more information and to download the relevant forms.
Employment Appeals Tribunal
The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) is the traditional venue for unfair dismissal cases, even though a Rights Commissioner can hear such a case provided there is no objection by either party. The EAT can determine cases itself in certain circumstances as well as deal with appeals from decisions of the Rights Commissioner.
It can hear cases concerning minimum notice, terms of employment, payment of wages, organization of working time, transfer of undertakings, parental leave, redundancy payments, carers leave, maternity protection, adoptive leave, and more.
The Labour Court is essentially an industrial relations tribunal, notwithstanding it’s name. It’s principal task is to attempt to resolve industrial relations disputes.
Whilst it can hear cases at first instance in certain matters such as organisation of working time, protection of employment, industrial relations, protection of part time employment, protection of fixed term employment, employment equality and minimum wages it sees itself as a forum of last resort and cases should only be referred to it when all other attempts at dispute resolution have failed.
Labour Relations Commission
The Labour Relations Commission is concerned with industrial disputes and providing the Rights Commissioner Service.
The Equality Tribunal
The Office of the Director of Equality Investigation (the Equality Tribunal) is the venue for redress under the Employment Equality Acts. Decisions of the Equality Tribunal can be appealed to the Labour Court.
The Civil Courts deal with applications for injunctions, wrongful dismissal, and breach of contract. The can also hear appeals from the other forums above.
The Health and Safety Authority is concerned with occupational health and safety and can prosecute breaches of health and safety law. It also plays a large role in the enforcement of anti bullying and harassment policies and procedures in the workplace.
NERA (National Employment Rights Authority)
NERA’s primary function is to provide information to employers and employees and to monitor and inspect employment conditions. It can also prosecute breaches and enforce compliance re holidays, organisation of working time, dismissal, notice, working time, and payment of wages.
It’s enforcement services unit can attempt to have determinations of the Labour Court or EAT enforced through the Courts. (However you might be better off engaging the services of a solicitor and pursuing this yourself as it is likely to be quicker.)
|Adoptive Leave Acts, 1995-2005||Rights Commissioner||6 months||DecisionDirection20 weeks compensation||Employment Appeals Tribunal|
|Carer’s Leave Act, 2001||Rights Commissioner||6 months||DecisionGrant of Leave26 weeks compensation||Employment Appeals Tribunal|
|Civil proceedings||Civil Courts||6 years||DamagesInjunction|
|Data Protection Acts, 1988 & 2003||Data protection commissioner||Na||Enforcement noticeProhibition noticePenalties||Circuit CourtHigh Court|
|Employment equality acts, 1998-2007||Equality tribunal||6 months||Equal payArrears of remunerationUp to 2 years compensation||Labour Court|
|Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004||Equality tribunal||6 months||DecisionCompensation up to €6,349An order||Circuit Court|
|European Communities (protection of employment) regulations, SI 488/2000||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionCompensation up to 4 weeks remuneration||EAT|
|European Communities (protection of employees of transfer of undertakings) SI 131/2003||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionCompensation up to 4 weeks remuneration (breach of regulation 8)||EATCompensation if breach of any regulation other than 8|
|Industrial Relations Acts, 1946-2004||Rights commissionerLabour Court||RemunerationRecommendationDetermination||Labour Court|
|Maternity Protection Acts, 1994-2004||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionDirectionsGrant leaveCompensation up to 20 weeks’ pay||EAT|
|Minimum Notice and terms of employment acts, 1973-2001||Employment appeals tribunal||6 months||Up to 8 weeks’ pay compensation||High Court on a point of law only|
|National Minimum Wages Act, 2000||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionArrearsReasonable expensesEmployer to remedy breach||Labour court|
|Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionCompensation up to 2 years remuneration||Labour court|
|Parental Leave Acts, 1998-2006||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionGrant of leaveCompensation up to 20 weeks’ remuneration||EAT|
|Payment of Wages act, 1991||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionCompensation up to 2 years remuneration||EAT|
|Protection of Employment Acts 1977-2007||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionCompensation up to 2 years remuneration||Labour Court|
|Protection of Employees (fixed term work) act, 2003||Rights commissioner||6 months||DecisionReinstatement/re-engagementCompensation up to 2 years compensation||Labour Court|
|Protection of Employees (employers’ insolvency) act 1984-2004||Employment appeals tribunal||6 weeks||Declaration that Minister is to make payment and specify amount||High court|
|Protection of young persons (employment) act, 1996||Rights commissioner||6 months||RecommendationCompensation as is equitable||Eat|
|Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967-2007||Employment appeals tribunal||6 months||Determination as to entitlement to lump sumEntitlement to rebates||High court on a point of law|
|Safety, Health and welfare at work act, 2005||Health and safety authority||Na||Improvement noticeProhibition noticeDirection re improvement plan||District court|
|Terms of employment (information) act, 1994 and 2001||Rights commissioner||6 months||Recommendation to correct statementCompensation up to 4 weeks remuneration||Eat|
|Unfair dismissal acts, 1977-2007||Rights commissionerEatCircuit courtHigh court||Six months||Recommendation from rights commissionerEat may award reinstatement, re-engagement or compensation of up to 2 years remunerationCircuit court may award damages for wrongful dismissal||EatCircuit court|
NOTE: most decisions can be appealed to the High Court on a point of law only.