The recent publication of the Workplace Relations Commission’s Annual Report for 2023 serves as a periodic reminder to Organisations to ensure to promote positive Employee relations as well as overall employment law compliance.

Aligning with Adare’s most recent HR Barometer findings which found that workplace conflicts and disputes increased last year, the report highlights a rise in the number of complaints received and adjudication hearings held. While the increase can be somewhat attributed to the continuing growth of the overall labour market, it also demonstrates that Employees know they have certain statutory workplace entitlements and are prepared to enforce them.

There have also been numerous employment law developments in recent years which pose compliance risks for Employers if they fail to take the action required of them under recently enacted employment law statutes. The WRC’s annual report highlights the myriad risks associated with failing to manage both workplace conflicts and disputes as well as employment law compliance.

In an increasingly complex employment law landscape, the report serves as a crucial reminder of the need for Employers to equip management with the skills to mitigate these Employee relations challenges and compliance risks.

Key Findings from the 2023 WRC Annual Report

Among the most notable findings in this year’s report were:

Workplace Inspections: The WRC conducted 6,519 workplace inspection visits in 2023, with specific target inspection campaigns focusing on the fisheries, road transport, construction, and agriculture sectors as well as a campaign targeting compliance with the National Minimum Wage.

Recovery of Unpaid Wages: From 4,727 completed inspections, the WRC recovered €1.95 million in unpaid wages, underscoring the importance of adherence to payment of wages and minimum wage legislation.

Increase in Adjudication Hearings: The number of adjudication hearings rose by nearly 13% compared to the previous year, reflecting a growing number of Employees using formal WRC dispute resolution mechanisms.

Increase in Number of WRC Decisions: The WRC issued 50% more decisions in 2023 than in 2022, highlighting the increasing compliance demands being placed on Employers.

Growth in Mediation Services: Pre-adjudication mediation services also saw a 19% increase, with 127 more mediations conducted than in the previous year. 443 mediations ended in resolution in 2023 compared to 313 in 2022, a 42% increase in the number of cases resolved by mediation year on year. The overall resolution rate of mediation increased to 56% in 2023 (up from 48% in both 2022 and 2021).

The increase in the use of mediation services may be attributable to the fact that adjudication hearings are now held in public where mediation offers a confidential alternative to resolve matters in private.

Implications for Employers

The data from the WRC’s Annual Report demonstrates that employment law compliance continues to be a material risk for Organisations. The increasing level of inspections, adjudications, and mediations demonstrates that Employees know their employment law rights and are prepared to use formal dispute resolution methods to protect their position.

To mitigate this risk, Employers must recognise the critical importance of effective management processes for dealing with Employee grievances. In addition, Employers who overlook increasing employment law compliance demands are also exposing their Organisations to unnecessary risk.

Why Upskilling Managers is Crucial

In light of the WRC’s findings and Adare’s recent HR Barometer data, it is evident that managers play a pivotal role in navigating these workplace challenges. Well-trained managers are better equipped to handle disputes proactively, ensure compliance with employment laws, and foster a positive work environment. Investing in manager upskilling, consistent management processes and carrying out periodic compliance reviews can significantly reduce the risk of workplace disputes as well as WRC enforcement action.

Safeguard Your Organisation by Investing in Management Upskilling

The publication of the WRC 2023 Annual Report reminds Employers of the importance of safeguarding their future by upskilling and training managers. By equipping managers with the knowledge and tools they need to manage conflicts effectively and to ensure employment law compliance, an Organisation takes a proactive approach to protecting its future by identifying and neutralising employment-related risks.

To find out more specifics about how our HR Management Excellence Solutions support and develop management teams, please contact the team at Adare at or by phone at 01 561 3594.