Overview of employment rights enforcement

Introduction

People working have certain rights under employment law such as a minimum wage and annual leave. If you are not getting your rights or entitlements or if you lose your job and consider your dismissal was unfair, there are various organisations which can assist you to enforce your rights – see 'How to apply' below. Since 1 October 2015, the main organisations involved in employment rights enforcement are the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

Reform of employment rights structures

The Workplace Relations Act 2015 came into effect on 1 October 2015. It reorganised and reformed the existing employment rights structures as follows:

  • The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) replaced the Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioner Service, Equality Tribunal, and National Employment Rights Authority. It is now the body of first instance, that is, where all complaints are first made. All hearings are now heard by a single adjudicator.
  • The Labour Court now deals with all workplace relations appeals, including those formerly heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal
  • The time limits for lodging complaints and appeals have been standardised
  • Reasoned, written decisions of all adjudications will now be published
  • There are new mechanisms to encourage employment law compliance and to deal with non-compliance
  • A WRC Information and Customer Service has been set up to encourage the resolution of disputes in the workplace
  • An Early Resolution Service aims to facilitate resolution of disputes without the need to resort to a hearing or inspection

Workplace Relations Commission

The Workplace Relations Commission’s main function is to promote the improvement of workplace relations. It is the body to which all workplace relations disputes and all disputes and complaints about employment laws are presented.

It resolves disputes by providing a range of services to employers, employees and trade unions. They include inspection of employment rights compliance and the provision of information, mediation, conciliation, advisory and adjudication services. The WRC now deals with disputes about equality and discrimination.

It has published the Guide to Employment, Labour and Equality Law (pdf).

The Labour Court

The Labour Court may investigate industrial disputes in certain circumstances. It also deals with all workplace relations appeals, so you may appeal to it against decisions of an adjudicator. The Employment Appeals Tribunal continues to hear appeals submitted before the commencement of the Workplace Relations Act on 1 October 2015.

How to apply

You make a complaint enforcing one of your employment rights under the relevant employment law. For example, your annual leave entitlement is set out under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. You can read this list of frequently asked questions about making a complaint.

If you need information about employment law and your employment rights you can contact Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service.

Further information

Victimisation

Some employment legislation prohibits employers from victimising or penalising employees who try to enforce or are enforcing their employment rights. Examples of victimisation are less favourable treatment than other employees, or dismissal.

Compensation payments and tax

If you are awarded a compensation payment as a result of an employment rights claim, in certain cases the payment may be exempt from income tax under Section 7 of the Finance Act 2004. The exemption applies to payments arising out of recommendations or decisions by a relevant authority following a formal hearing or mediation. You can read more details about this in Revenue’s leaflet, Exemption from Income Tax – IT 71.

Page edited: 12 November 2015