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Pay is the Predominant Complaint Made to WRC in 2021

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) published its annual report for 2021 last week. It provides some interesting insights into complaints being brought forward by employees and highlights some trends when compared to previous years.

Complaints received

In total, there were 5,993 complaints made to the WRC comprising 12,014 specific or individual complaints. The report notes that while this is a decrease on the 8,103 complaints received in 2020 (which was made up of 18,969 specific complaints) over 1,600 of these were almost identical complaints relating to a single employer.

Of the complaints received, Pay accounted for 25% (3,009), making up the main five types of complaints. This was followed by:

  • Unfair dismissal – 14% (1,688)

  • Discrimination – 13% (1,596)

  • Hours of work – 11.5% (1,382)

  • Trade dispute/ IR – 10% (1,207)

There was a significant drop in the number of complaints received relating to Redundancy; in 2021, the WRC received 571 complaints making up 4.75% of the total number, compared with 3,894 in 2020 making up 20.5% of the total complaints received.

A total of 3,320 adjudication hearings were held in 2021 with 1,549 decisions or recommendations issued. This represented a significant increase of 75% on the 1,899 hearings held in 2020.


Requests for Conciliation services in 2021 (689) were in line with 2020 (688). However, there was an increase in the number of Conciliation Conferences; 926 in 2021 compared with 735 in 2020. The resolution rate was 86%.

Pay was the main reason for requests for Conciliation and accounted for 44% of issues heard. Issues relating to Industrial Relations, such as changes to conditions of employment, new technologies, and outsourcing, accounted for 24% of requests and Organisational Structure made up 20% of the requests for Conciliation.

A total of 95 disputes were referred to the Labour Court where full resolution was not achieved/ possible at Conciliation.


Pre-adjudication mediation: Of the complaints received, 1,760 noted Mediation as an option and in 63% of these cases, the respondent agreed to attempt resolution through this service. According to the report, over half (52%) of the Mediations were resolved.

Workplace mediation: Workplace Mediation is provided on an ad-hoc basis to help resolve disputes with individuals or small groups. In 2021, 56 requests were made to the WRC with 42 now closed.

HR Barometer Report

According to our HR Barometer Report, published in April 2022, 14% of Organisations attended the WRC in 2021. Of those that attended the WRC, just over one third (36%) availed of external HR or Employment Law support. This is in line with the WRC’s report that states 46% of complaints had third party representation while 40% of respondents were represented.

The full HR Barometer Report can be accessed on Linea.

The full Workplace Relations Committee Annual Report 2021 can be accessed here.

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