Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Ceisteanna (140)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

140. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons waiting for a Labour Court hearing by the number of months waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27043/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Labour Court is an independent statutory office under the aegis of my Department. While the Court was established under the Industrial Relations Act, 1946, its functions have been altered and extended by subsequent legislation, including, most recently, the Workplace Relations Act 2015. Under the 2015 Act, the Labour Court assumed the role of sole appellate body in disputes under employment rights legislation.

As of 24 June 2019, the Labour Court has cases in respect of 76 appellants that are ready to be scheduled* for first hearing. A breakdown of waiting times for these 76 appellants is set out in tabular form below.

Waiting Times - Months

Ready for scheduling *

1 month or less

9

Between 1 and 2 months

17

Between 2 and 3 months

9

Between 3 and 4 months

19

Between 4 and 5 months

4

Between 5 and 6 months

3

Between 6 and 7 months

5

Greater than 7 months

10

76 **

*Ready for scheduling means that all appropriate submissions and other documents have been received from the parties such that a hearing can be arranged for the case in question.

**Included in the figures provided are referrals made from the WRC under section 26(1) Industrial Relations Act 1990. As it is not possible to ascertain from the Labour Court data processing system the total number of workers who come within each such referral, such referrals are counted as being made by one person for the purposes of this reply.

In addition, as of 24 June 2019, 89 appellants have been scheduled for hearings by the Labour Court in July and August. In assigning hearing dates the Court typically programmes two months ahead in order to ensure maximum flexibility in responding to requests for postponements, withdrawals, urgent requests for hearings and in order to make best planned use of the resources available to the Court.

The Labour Court is still awaiting submissions and/or other documentation from 67 appellants who submitted appeals or referrals in 2019; such information is required before a hearing can be scheduled. There are also a significant number of other cases received in preceding years and which are either on hold or where submissions and/or other documentation remain outstanding from the parties. The Court continues to work with the parties concerned to ensure these cases are progressed.

A key factor affecting timelines is that the process of bringing an Employment Equality and Unfair Dismissals case to hearing involves provision of time to make comprehensive written submissions before arrangements can be made to schedule a hearing. A further factor impacting on waiting times for scheduled hearings is the Labour Court’s commitment to hear cases in the regions. This commitment can sometimes impact scheduling, as hearings are grouped appropriately.