I took a quick look through the latest decisions from the WRC this morning. There is a facility on the WorkplaceRelations.ie website which allows you to see the latest decisions and the week in question is from the 23rd September 2019 to 29th September 2019.
I only glanced at about 5 decisions but of those 5 two grabbed my attention.
Claim for €70
The first one was ADJ-00021926 which was a claim by a maintenance operative against a property maintenance company. This involved a claim under the Industrial Relations act 1969 for outstanding expenses of €70 due to the worker.
The employer did not attend the hearing and the WRC recommended that the employee be paid the €70 and a further €350 for the inconvenience of having to claim to the WRC.
The problem for the employee, however, is that as his claim was brought under the Industrial Relations Act 1969 the recommendation is not legally binding or enforceable.
The second case that took my attention was a claim for redundancy by a kitchen fitter against a kitchen provider (ADJ-00016292). The employee was successful in the case which was held over 2 days and was awarded €619.
What struck me from both of these cases was the question of cost effectiveness for all parties: the employee, the employer, and the WRC.
In the first case involving the property maintenance company the claim at the outset was for €70 and it was brought under an act that can only result in an unenforceable recommendation; this may or may not be why the respondent did not show up.
The second case ended up, after 2 days, with an award of €619 but when you consider the cost incurred by employee, employer, and WRC over a 2 day hearing you would have to question the cost effectiveness of claims like these.
Perhaps if a claim was below a certain amount it could be dealt with without the need for a hearing; perhaps written submissions by both parties (they are supposed to send these into the WRC in any event) and a desk based decision by the Adjudicator.
I am not questioning the right of any complainant to submit a claim, regardless of the monetary value, and recognise that an employee may wish to bring a claim on a point of principle and to show that he/she was treated unfairly and/or unlawfully by the employer.
But a more cost effective method might be worth considering for claims below a certain monetary value which might be to the benefit of all parties.