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Workplace Relations Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 April 2019

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Questions (97, 98)

Bríd Smith


97. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of actions taken by the WRC enforcement section on foot of the refusal by an employer to fulfil an award made to an employee after a WRC hearing or an adjudication in each of the years 2016 to 2018. [16993/19]

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Bríd Smith


98. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the reason the WRC has decided not to take action to enforce its own findings in a case in which an employer claims they did not receive documentation regarding a hearing; if such defences by employers are routinely accepted by the WRC as a defence when an employer has lost a hearing adjudication decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16994/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 98 together.

If an Employer/Respondent fails to comply with a decision of an Adjudication Officer of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), or a decision of the Labour Court arising from an appeal of an Adjudication Officer's decision, within the prescribed time, an application may be made to the District Court in accordance with section 43 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 for an order directing the Respondent to carry out the decision. The application can be made by the following:

- The complainant concerned;

- The WRC;

- A Trade Union, with consent of the employee; or

- An excepted body of which the employee/complainant is a member.

In the case of an Adjudication Officer’s decision, the application to the District Court can be made after a period of 56 days has elapsed from the date the decision was issued to the parties. A period of 42 days must have elapsed from the date the Labour Court decision was issued to the parties before the application can be made in respect of that decision. The application must be made to a judge of the District Court in which the Respondent concerned ordinarily resides. Failure to comply with an order of the District Court is a criminal offence under section 51 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015. A person found guilty of such an offence, shall be liable on summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. It is open to a complainant who has received a decision from an Adjudication Officer which has not been appealed, to make an application for enforcement of this decision in the District Court.

The WRC has discretion, having regard to resources, capacity available, cost and the circumstances of a case, to accept a request to make an application to the District Court on behalf of the complainant for an order directing the Respondent to comply with the decision. In exercising that discretion, the WRC has regard to the matters set out in the Criteria for Enforcement contained in the Guidance Notes to the Application Form for making such requests. This is available at the following link.

In 2016 a total of 43 decisions were enforced following an application by the WRC to the District Court with 85 and 66 completed in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

In the case the Deputy has referred to, the Complainant, when completing the initial complaint application form, had not correctly identified the legal entity they were raising the complaint against. This is a very important requirement and the necessity to do so is emphasised in the complaint form. Complainants are instructed to check details on the Companies Registration website before completing the complaint form.

The case was referred to the Legal Proceedings Committee of the WRC for a decision as to the appropriateness of seeking an order in the District Court. In the circumstances, obtaining an enforcement order was not possible.