Irish employment law is to undergo a much needed overhaul from the 1st of October 2015 when the highly anticipated Workplace Relations Act 2015 is commenced.
The new Act is a major piece of public service reform and will merge the existing five employment rights bodies into two: The Workplace Relations Commission and The Labour Court.
The reforms are expected to provide both employees employers with a better service and reduce the inordinate delays associated with the current system.
From next autumn all employment disputes will be first heard by the Workplace Relations Commission. These disputes will take place before and be decided by a single adjudicator in a manner similar to the current hearings before a Rights Commissioner.
A decision from the WRC may be appealed to the reconfigured Labour Court with a further appeal on a point of law to the High Court.
All employment disputes will have to be referred to the WRC within six months, though this may be extended to one year if ‘reasonable cause’ can be shown.
The Act also aims to encourage early mediation between parties. Complaints made to the WRC may be referred to mediation if the case is deemed suitable for early resolution and both parties agree to it.
All decisions of the WRC will be published online anonymously.
When an award is made in an employee’s favour it may be enforced in the District Court if the employer has not complied after a certain period.
Once the WRC has been established, all cases that are currently being dealt with by the existing deciding bodies will be transferred to it. This is with the exception of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, who will continue to exist until all cases issued prior to October have been concluded.