The Workplace Relations Commission has this week published its 2019 Annual Report. The report, issued annually, reflects on the activities of the Workplace Relations Commission from the previous year and is a useful insight to Employees and Employers alike on the areas of compliance or non-compliance that were addressed through their various mechanisms.

In times of such uncertainty all Employers are still in the space of continuity and/or contingency planning and in the current environment it is essential that pragmatic decisions are being made to limit the risks that may unfold in the near and not too distant future. From a strategic planning point of view there exists a necessity for Employers to re-prioritise business objectives in the medium and long term in order to prepare for what is inevitably being called the new normal. With this practice comes a number of associated risks from a HR and Employment law perspective, especially when considering the restructuring of your workforce. The publication of the Workplace Relations Commission 2019 Annual Report comes as a timely reminder of those risks and acts as a cue to ensure Employers are acting in a manner that not only serves the business but also your people.

What we learned from the WRC 2019 Annual Report

21,000 specific complaints were received which was up 38% on 2018 with the subject matter of the complaints categorised as follows:

Almost 5,000 inspections were concluded involving 127,000 Employees. Of those inspections concluded, €3.9million in wages was recovered, an increase of €800,000 from 2018.

Complaints Received
Of almost 21,000 specific complaints the four biggest complaint types related to hours of work, pay, unfair dismissals and discrimination/ equality complaints.

The figures outlined above represent the HR and Employment law landscape of 2019, but what to expect in the 2020 Annual Report will presumably be reflective of countless restructuring processes and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The importance of highlighting the types of claims from this report is to prompt an assessment or analysis of Employers potential liability generated by current responses to the pandemic. We have seen a steady increase in complaints to the Workplace Relations Commission year on year since its inception and in the current climate, with so many employment scenarios impacted, we anticipate a surge of complaints in 2020.

In the current climate restructuring, review of resource requirements and the review of terms and conditions of employment are to the fore of most Organisations and with that comes the increased and real risk of discontent and increasing internal disputes and external employment claims, particularly in the areas of pay, redundancy, unfair dismissal and discrimination / equality. It is on this basis that Employers should ensure they approach any and all changes in an informed manner, and with caution.

Disclaimer – The information in this section should not be interpreted as a legal definition of any of the information provided. Any imagery used is available in the public domain and was published in the Workplace Relations Commission 2019 Annual Report. The information provided is correct of April ,29 2020 and is per information on the WRC website as of that date.