Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Workplace Relations Commission
32. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of cases heard by the Workplace Relations Commission in each of the years 2018 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10096/21]
Since establishment, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has held over 20000 hearings in relation to complaints submitted to its Adjudication Service and, between 2018 and 2020, held some 12220 hearings. The breakdown per year is set out in the table below.
In terms of complaints submitted, many such complaints are withdrawn or settled prior to, or in the context of WRC hearings, and, in disposing of complaints, the WRC provides a pre-adjudication mediation service to assist parties resolve matters without the need for adjudication.
The onset of the Covid19 pandemic, in common with many adjudicative bodies, has had a significant impact on WRC service delivery. To address this the WRC in April 2020, carried out an extensive consultation with stakeholders to seek input on alternative approaches to complaint disposal. In this regard, the WRC proposed a service mix of written procedures, virtual hearings and, as circumstances allowed, in-person hearings.
In terms of the impact of Covid19 on scheduling, some 800 face-to-face adjudication case hearings scheduled to be heard in April and May were cancelled on foot of Covid-19 restriction announcements. A further 750 potential face-to-face hearings were lost during the months of June and July in line with appropriate restrictions on gatherings and travel. In total, over 2000 potential hearings were lost in 2020 which impacted directly on the number of decisions issued.
However, since S.I. 359/2020, which had the effect of removing the need for parties’ consent to virtual hearings came into force in September 2020, the WRC has been scheduling 100 virtual hearings a week on average, which is similar to the level of face-to-face hearings that pertained in 2019. The WRC has a target of scheduling 130 such hearings a week across 2021. This target is designed to return the WRC to pre-Covid-19 equilibrium in hearings terms by the end of the year and my Department has agreed support necessary to assist the WRC in this regard.
Adjudication Hearings by WRC Adjudication Service 2015-2020