Mediation becoming more common in WRC disputes

Mediation becoming more common in WRC disputes

WRC chairperson Dr David Begg

More cases brought before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) are being resolved with the use of mediation, according to its annual report for 2022.

There was a 30 per cent increase in parties willing to engage in mediation in 2022, during which the WRC broadened its service model to deliver mediation by default and in person in unfair dismissal complaints. The WRC also began a six-month pilot “late request” mediation service.

Some 1,546 cases were selected for mediation in 2022, of which 658 mediations took place where both parties agreed to participate. “This represents an increase in participation in mediation of 31 per cent compared to 2021 and the number of cases resolved by mediation also increased by 30 per cent in 2022,” the report states.

While telephone mediations decreased from 350 in 2021 to 261 in 2022 (25 per cent decrease), face-to-face mediations increased by 263 per cent from 151 to 397. The number of mediations successfully resolved in a face-to-face mediation also increased by 276 per cent.

The WRC’s annual report for 2022 also shows a 28 per cent increase in hearings by the adjudication service in 2022 as normal service resumed post-pandemic.

Neale Richmond, minister of state for employment affairs and retail business, said: “Last year was a very successful year for the WRC. 4,253 hearings were heard by the Adjudication Service in 2022, a 28% increase on the 3,320 held in 2021.

“In addition, almost 6,000 inspection visits took place and in December almost 700 visits alone took place to ensure that employers and employees were aware of what needed to be done under the Tips and Gratuities Act that commenced that month.”

He added: “As our economy continues to grow and we maintain effective full employment with over 2.57 million people at work in Ireland, we must ensure workers’ rights are upheld. In recovering €1.4 million in unpaid wages in 2022, the WRC is playing a crucial role in this regard.”

The minister paid tribute to the former director general Liam Kelly, who retired in March 2023 and acknowledged his very significant contribution to the WRC over his term of office and wished him well in his retirement.

Dr David Begg, chairperson of the WRC board, said: “The WRC is in the relationship business. Specifically, we try to resolve problems in a way that preserves positive relationships between employers and employees in the workplace. That is why restoring face-to-face engagement in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic was a critical imperative achieved in 2022.”

Ms Anna Perry, acting director general of the WRC, said: “2022 was the year when the WRC returned to more of its pre-Covid service delivery model in terms of face-to-face engagements, which was very much welcomed by all stakeholders.

“It was a challenging year with significant achievements made. The hard work and commitment of the staff over the past year has been critical in managing the demand and delivering this level of output.”

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