From 10 July 2020 the WRC rolled out remote hearings on consent with a focus on complaints submitted in relation to Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, Payment of Wages Act 1991, Industrial Relations Act 1969 and Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 etc.
This followed an extensive consultation process run in two phases from April to June 2020. Having regard to the need to ensure fairness for all parties, the WRC advised that over time, it would expand the range of cases amenable to remote hearing, in light of the developing experience of all parties of using the new procedures and technology.
Introduction of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (Section 31) (Workplace Relations Commissions) (Designation) Order 2020 – SI 359/2020
On 24 September 2020, SI 359/2020 came into force. This Order assigned the WRC as a “designated body” for the purposes of Section 31 of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (‘the 2020 Act’). The Act makes explicit provision for remote hearings thereby enhancing the WRC’s existing powers to hold remote hearings and removing any requirement for parties’ consent.
The introduction of level 5 restrictions from 21 October 2020 has accelerated the need for remote hearings whilst face to face hearings are not possible.
All parties and representatives are asked to be positively disposed to remote hearings where mediation or disposal of the case on the papers is not possible.
Where a party objects to the decision of the WRC in relation to a remote hearing, they may make submissions to the WRC within 5 working days of receipt of the hearing notice – such submissions will be considered by an Adjudication Officer.
Where proceeding to hearing, the parties must comply with the WRC’s procedures in relation to providing advance written submissions and witness lists (if applicable) as per section 31(1)(d) of the 2020 Act in order to avoid undue delay.
To read more, please visit the WRC website for the original article.