Many visitors to my Facebook page about employment rights in Ireland have a dim view of the WRC (Workplace Relations Commission). Some of these disappointed complainants believe the WRC is useless and in favour of employers.
On this post, for example, you will see comments such as
‘WRC is crap of employers’ weapons’,
‘A complete shower of pricks…
Told me i was off my head go home.’
‘The wrc weren’t much use to tesco staff.’
‘Biggest mistake anyone can make is to go to WRC – look up decisions and you will see patterns’
‘Kangaroo court at best’
‘The WRC are wortless’
‘They weren’t much use to me either absolutely wasted my time’
Is that the case? Can you, as an employee complainant, get a fair hearing and have a reasonable chance of success? Are the dice loaded against you?
Conspiracy theories can be hard to dispel and unsuccessful claimants to the WRC are understandably disappointed. They blame the system, or the WRC, or the government, or the employer, or the other side’s representative.
They often overlook their own case, however, and the way it was presented. And the facts underlying that case and whether they proved those facts.
Then there is the requirement to prove a breach of the law in respect of the claimant’s employment rights.
Sometimes, but rarely, cases are straightforward. Slam dunks.But they are rare enough, to be frank.
Most times, however, there is at least three sides to the story-the claimant’s, the employer’s, and the truth.
What these disappointed commenters fail to understand is their case was probably unsuccessful because the facts of their case meant they were unable to prove a breach of the law by their employer.
Their case did not fail because the WRC favours employers, it didn’t fail because of some conspiracy, it didn’t fail because the WRC is biased; it almost certainly failed because the complainant failed to
- Prove the facts
- Prove the law
Essentially the facts of the case, or the facts that were proved, did not support the contention that the claim they were pursuing was proven.
It is the easiest thing in the world to blame the referee if you lose a match. It is human nature to believe the referee stitched you up and favoured the other team.
It is far more difficult to accept that you were not good enough on the day and the other team were deserving winners.
Similarly, it is easier to blame the WRC generally or the Adjudication Officer or some other target for the failure to prove the claim presented.
But that is not fair on the WRC or the Adjudication Officer who I have always found to be fair, professional, and knowledgeable about employment law.
Last week I wrote about a sexual harassment case at the WRC which attracted an award of €30,000-18 months salary- to the employee and a case of indirect harassment which saw an award of 12 months salary-€38,000- for the employee who lost her job because she was unable to accept moving from part time work to full time.
The truth of the matter about the WRC’s effectiveness for employees is inconvenient and less sensational than the allegation that there is a conspiracy to do down the employee and make sure her claim for breach of her employment right fails.
The truth is if you present a decent case of breach of the law and prove the facts of your case you will win. And if you fail to do so your claim will fail.
This is the way it should be. You must prove the facts, and you must prove breach of an employment right.
It’s as simple as that.
And if you fail, don’t blame the ref. But my experience is that you will get a fair hearing.
Here are the 2 recent cases to which I refer above and where employees were awarded €30,000 and €38,000: