Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ceisteanna (83, 94)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

83. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of cases heard at the Workplace Relations Commission in 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of adjudicators employed by the commission; the number of appeals to decisions of adjudicators; the time taken for cases to be heard; and her plans for the commission for the coming year. [43635/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

94. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the staff numbers at the WRC including adjudicators; the average time taken to have cases heard and appeals decided; and the number of cases heard in 2018 and to date in 2019. [50382/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 94 together.

The Workplace Relations Commission is an office under the aegis of my Department. The WRC is staffed by 176 civil servants who are part of the overall staffing of my Department. Table 1 sets out the number and grades of staff employed at the WRC. In addition, the WRC’s Adjudications Service is supplemented by a cohort of 44 independent contractor adjudicators recruited through the Public Appointments Service (PAS).

WRC

Grade

Person Count

Director General

1.0

PO

5.0

AP*

19.2

Solicitor

0.7

Legal Advisor (AP)

0.8

HEO

24.0

AO

2.0

EO

66.9

CO

56.5

Grand Total

176.1

*7.2 full time equivalents are civil servant Adjudication Officers.

In the period 1 January to 31 December 2018, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) held 5,312 adjudication hearings. In the period 1st January to 31st October 2019, the WRC held 4,141 adjudication hearings. Under employment rights and industrial relations legislation, it is open to either party to appeal the decision of a WRC Adjudicator to the Labour Court. The WRC’s 2018 Annual Report indicates that approximately 10% of adjudication decisions are appealed annually to the Labour Court. Equal Status decisions are appealable to the Circuit Court.

In 2018, over 90% of complaints received by the WRC’s Adjudication Service were processed from receipt of complaint to decision issuing within six months, where there were no requests for postponement and where submissions were received in a timely manner. In the period January to October 2019, the median time for decisions to issue from date of receipt of complaint is 8.2 months. Factors impacting processing times include postponements being sought, delays in the parties making submissions to the WRC or the parties may have attempted to mediate the dispute. The WRC intends, following consultation with stakeholders, to introduce a new pilot procedure for seeking postponements, which should impact positively on processing times. Another factor impacting processing times is the volume of complaints received by the WRC for adjudication. This year to end of October 2019, the WRC received a 44% increase in specific complaints in comparison to the same period last year.

The WRC will continue to maintain and improve the level of quality service being delivered in 2020. Key objectives for the Commission next year include the reduction of the median time for processing adjudication complaints by an additional two weeks on 2019, ensuring a smooth transition of An Garda Síochána to access the services of the WRC and the targeting of more “at risk” employers and sectors by the Inspection and Enforcement Division.

In 2018 the Labour Court received a total of 1169 cases which include appeals of WRC Adjudication Officers decisions and industrial relations referrals. The Court scheduled 954 hearings and the average time for cases to reach hearing in 2018 was 12 weeks in respect of industrial relations cases and 19 weeks in respect of employment rights cases. In 2019 to end October, the Labour Court received 865 appeals/referrals and scheduled 902 hearings. During that period, the average time for cases to reach hearing was 17 weeks in respect of industrial relations cases and 26 weeks in respect of employment rights cases.

Factors affecting these times include postponements being sought, delays by the parties making submissions to the Labour Court or are the consequence of the Labour Court’s commitment to the formation of hearing programmes in the regions which involve appropriate workloads and as a result optimal value for money. A key factor affecting timelines for employment rights cases 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.

The average time taken for the Court to issue its decisions/recommendations following a hearing in 2018 was 2 weeks. The Court issued 504 decisions/recommendations in 2018. The average time in 2019 to end October was 3 weeks and the Court issued 449 decisions/recommendations in that period.