The Workplace Relations Act 2015

Tribunal in actionThe Workplace Relations Act 2015 commenced on 1st October 2015 and introduces a new Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which will take over the functions of the Employment Rights bodies.

The WRC will now deal with all new claims relating to:

  • Industrial Relations
  • Employment Law
  • Employment Equality Disputes

Appeals will be made to the Labour Court instead of the Employment Appeals Tribunal.  The Act also makes changes to a range of employment laws and introduces new compliance measures.

Some of the main changes under the Workplace Relations Act 2015:

  • Compliance Provisions. In order to promote higher levels of compliance with employment and equality law, employers can now be penalised with “on the spot fines” (with the possibility of imprisonment) for breaches of employment law;
  • Compliance Notices can be issued by the WRC if they believe an employer has contravened employment legislation. Failure to comply with a Compliance Notice will be an offence and may result in a fine of up to €50,000 or imprisonment for up to 3 years;
  • The WRC can issue Fixed Payment Notices for an offence under the Protection of Employment Act; Payment of Wages Act; or National Minimum Wage Act. Fines can be up to €2000;
  • Early Resolution will be introduced to try to resolve employment issues at workplace level, without the need to take them to a formal hearing;
  • If Early Resolution is not appropriate, employment disputes will be referred to a single adjudicator at the Workplace Relations Commission;
  • Increased sharing of information on employers who are in breach of employment law, between various state agencies such as the Revenue Commissioners and the Health and Safety Authority. For example the sharing of PPS numbers and ERN numbers;
  • Amendments to the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, meaning that employees on long term sick leave can accrue and retain annual leave for up to 15 months from the end of the year in which it accrued.