The vast majority of employment-related claims are adjudicated upon by the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”). The claims are heard initially by an adjudicator and then on appeal to the Labour Court.
Examples of statutory claims heard by the WRC include claims for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, claims relating to payment of wages and unlawful deductions, claims alleging discrimination and claims relating to breaches of working time legislation. Maximum compensation varies from claim to claim but does not exceed two years' remuneration (salary + benefits).
Claimants generally have a timeframe of six months in which they may bring a claim to the WRC.
Regarding employee relations, the Irish industrial relations system is regarded as voluntary and does not require employers to engage in collective bargaining or formal recognition of trade unions.
However, recent legislative amendments have improved the framework for workers seeking to improve their terms and conditions in circumstances where collective bargaining is not recognized by their employer. There is now a mechanism for trade unions, on behalf of their members, to have disputes regarding remuneration or other terms and conditions assessed and determined by the Labour Court.
Under the Industrial Relations Acts, it is also possible for an employee to refer a “trade dispute” to the WRC. The definition of a trade dispute is very broad and includes practically any issues related to employment. This is often the mechanism by which employees, who may not have acquired unfair dismissal rights due to insufficient service, can litigate if they are dismissed.
Certain employment-related claims are dealt with by the Civil Courts. This includes gender discrimination, breach of contract claims and personal injuries litigation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.