The Essential Procedures for Pursuing Your Claim at the WRC (Workplace Relations Commission)

Since the introduction of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 a new system of adjudicating employment complaints and disputes was introduced. The new system is a simpler one and did away with the Rights Commissioner and Employment Appeals Tribunal service and was replaced by a WRC Adjudication in the Workplace Relations Commission.

The Workplace Relations Commission Complaint Form

The starting point for your claim is the WRC complaint form. (You can access the form on this page.)

If you have a complaint about an employment or equality right, or have a grievance under industrial relations legislation you must use the Workplace Relations Commission Complaint Form. (I have previously written an article about how to bring a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission).

The complaint must be made within 6 months of the breach of your right, although the Workplace Relations Commission Adjudicator can extend this time to 12 months where there is reasonable cause shown for the delay. What is reasonable cause will be decided by the Adjudicator.

The WRC will copy all correspondence between the parties who are called the “complainant” and “respondent”. The WRC have a mediation service which will be offered to the parties in suitable cases.

This may simply involve a phone call from the WRC to the parties to see if they can broker a deal between the parties. If the mediator/WRC employee is unsuccessful the case will go ahead for adjudication.

Statements from the Complainant

In a claim for constructive dismissal, or an equality based claim, the complainant must submit a clear statement setting out the details of the complaint.

In all other unfair dismissal cases the respondent is obliged to provide a clear statement within 21 days of the request from WRC.

If this procedure is not complied with the hearing will still go ahead but the adjudication officer may draw an inference(s) from the failure.

In an employment equality case the complainant must set out in detail the facts from which discrimination can be shown or inferred.

In a constructive dismissal case the complainant should set out as much detail as possible on the WRC complaint form, including any grievances raised, investigations carried out etc.

In other unfair dismissal cases the respondent must set out in his statement the facts leading to the dismissal, including any disciplinary hearings, appeals, legal points etc.

Other Employment and Equality Cases

If a respondent intends relying on statutory records in his defence these should be sent to the WRC prior to the hearing. Any other points the respondent wishes to make-for example in relation to a legal point or the wrong employer being named-should be raised within 21 days of receipt of the complaint from the WRC.

WRC Hearing

Both parties will then be contacted with a date for the hearing, and asked to advise of any special requirements they have, for example, an interpreter. A postponement will only be given in exceptional circumstances, and the request must be made in writing to the WRC with an explanation. Consent of the other party would be useful, too.

It is up to the parties to ensure that the WRC has all relevant documentation prior to the hearing and that witnesses, if any, are available for the day.

Conduct of the Hearing

My experience of the way the hearing is held is that it can vary, depending on the particular WRC adjudicator.

Nevertheless, the adjudicator will indicate how he/she wants to conduct it and he/she will

  • Ask questions of any party or witness
  • Allow each party to question the other party and any witness
  • Ensure fair procedures and natural justice

The WRC hearing is in private, so is not open to the public or media.

The written decision is supposed to issue within 28 days of the hearing with the parties and witnesses anonymised.

Appeal and Enforcement

The decision can be appealed within 42 days to the Labour Court and the decision can be enforced through the District Court after 42 days if no appeal is lodged.

 

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How to Make a Complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC)

Workplace-Relations-Commission

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is the new body which, from 1st October 2015, will hear all cases concerning complaints about breaches of employment and equality law in the workplace.

To make a complaint you need to fill out the Workplace Relations Complaint form which you can access here.

WRC Procedures in Investigating and Hearing Complaints

Fill out the Workplace Relations Complaint form accurately, and submit it online.

Be careful, though, that the complaint has been received by the WRC.

You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt immediately; if you don’t, follow up with the WRC.

Most complaints or disputes must be notified within 6 months (different time limits apply to complaints under the Redundancy Payment Acts and Equality Acts) of the alleged breach of your right; 12 months will be allowed in exceptional circumstances and you must show reasonable cause for the delay to an adjudication officer.

All material, documents, correspondence will be copied to the other party so that both parties will have all relevant documents relating to the complaint.

If a complaint is frivolous or vexatious an adjudication officer has the power to dismiss it.  (Section 42 Workplace Relations Act, 2015).

In certain cases, unless one or both parties object, mediation may be used to try to resolve the issue. Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and without prejudice.

Employment Equality and Constructive Dismissal Cases

In Employment Equality and constructive dismissal complaints a statement must be submitted by the complainant, who has the burden of proof in these two categories of cases.

Employment Equality Cases

In this type of case you must give as much detail on the form itself as possible. You must set out the fact, link the facts to the alleged discrimination, and provide any other relevant information to support your case.

Constructive Dismissal Cases

The same requirement applies to constructive dismissal cases. You must set out the facts leading to your quitting the employment, whether you invoked the grievance procedure (you should), any investigation carried out, and any other relevant information.

Other Unfair Dismissal Cases

In other unfair dismissal cases the burden of proof is on the employer/respondent. He has to submit a statement setting out the facts leading to the dismissal including any disciplinary hearing held, investigation, appeal, and so forth.

This must be submitted within 21 days of request from the WRC.

All Other Employment and Equality Cases

A statement should be submitted by the respondent within 21 days of receiving the complaint form from the WRC setting out any legal points he wishes to make, for example there was no dismissal or the complainant was not an employee.

The Hearing

Each party may be asked to give a list of witnesses he proposes to call, and the reason.

If the complainant does not attend the hearing the Adjudication Officer can dismiss the complaint.

If the respondent does not appear a decision may be made in his absence by the Adjudication Officer.

All of these WRC hearings are private and members of the public are not permitted to attend.

After the hearing a decision will be sent out by the Adjudication Officer within 28 days, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Importantly, the WRC hearing is held in private, with the names of the parties being anonymised for publication on the Workplace Relations website.

You might also be interested in questioning at WRC hearings and 10 rules for cross examination.

Appeals

Either party may appeal to the Labour Court. If there is no appeal the decisions is legally binding and can be enforced through the District Court. Appeals to the Labour Court are public.

Here’s a link to the WRC guide to Procedures in the Investigation and Adjudication of Employment and Equality Complaints.