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Latest news and blog » The Workplace Relations Act 2015 2016-01-11

The new Act will reduce the total number of employment law hearings, allowing all complaints that are based on a single set of facts to be heard at a single hearing. (Previously, there could be multiple complaints arising from the same set of facts being made to different settings).

Briefly the changes are as follows:-

  • The Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Equality Tribunal will soon no longer exist.
  • The jurisdiction of the Labour Court is expanded.
  • New Adjudication Officers have been appointed. Complaints of unfair dismissal, for example, must all now commence before Adjudication Officers.
  • In unfair dismissal cases, the right of appeal to the Circuit Court is abolished.
  • Labour inspectors have new powers.
  • The Labour Court will apply more elaborate pre-hearing procedures in cases.

There are also substantive changes being made by the Workplace Relations Act 2015 to employment law itself. For example, from 1 August 2015, employees who have been absent from work due to medically certified illness have been entitled to accrue annual leave in the same manner as if they were at work. Employees who are on long term sick leave do not accrue annual leave indefinitely. Leave entitlements will expire 15 months from the end of the statutory leave year in which the entitlements accrued.  The statutory leave year runs from 1 April each year until the following 31 March.

An employee is not entitled to take annual leave while on sick leave. Annual leave entitlements only crystallise at the end of an employee's period of sick leave, whether the sick leave ends because the employee returns to work or because the employee's employment terminates for any reason, including the death of the employee.

The Complaints Process

  • Complaints must be lodged within 6 months or within 12 months if the delay is due to a reasonable cause;
  • Claim forms must be completed, available on the WRC website;
  • The Director General of the WRC may refer a complaint for mediation, but only where the parties agree;
  • If mediation unsuccessful, complaints will be investigated (in private) by an Adjudication Officer;
  • No fees charged, at present, to initiate a complaint;
  • An appeal may be made to the Labour Court of decisions of an Adjudication Officer within six weeks;
  • An appeal may be made to the High Court on a decision of the Labour Court.

The Workplace Relations Act 2015 is a complex Act which amends 43 statutes and took considerable debate and consulation to come into effect.


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