The Work Relations Commission (WRC) recovered just under one million euros in unpaid wages for employees last year, its annual report has revealed.
Over the course of 2021, some 12,000 individual complaints were received by the adjudication service and the number of hearings held increased by 75% on the previous year, with almost all the hearings held virtually.
In the WRC annual report for 2021, it revealed that almost 90% of disputes dealt with through its conciliation service were resolved, with some 3,433 inspections completed over the same period.
Over the course of 2021, some 5,993 complaint applications were received, which comprised 12,014 individual complaints.
The report showed that this represented a fall of some 2,110 complaint applications when compared with 2020.
It noted, however, that just over 1,600 almost identical complaints in relation to a single employer were received in June that year.
As such the broader monthly pattern for 2021 reflects the experience of 2020, the report added.
“While there is evidence that referrals have fallen post the onset of Covid-19, as the pandemic recedes it is possible that the level of complaints will begin to rise again,” it added.
Specific complaints in relation to pay were the most prevalent followed by unfair dismissal at 14%, and discrimination/equality/equal status made up 13% of all complaints, which is some 20% higher in the equality complaints category when compared with 2020.
There was a notable decrease in specific complaints relating to redundancy at 571, compared with what was received in this regard in 2020 at 3,894, representing a return to the level of such referrals pre-Covid.
Notwithstanding these restrictions, a total of 3,320 adjudication hearings were held in the period January 1 to 31 December 2021.
This represented a significant increase of 75% on the 1,899 hearings held in 2020.
Last year the WRC worked through the challenges that the global pandemic continued to presentMinister Damien English
Last year witnessed a significant increase in complaint referrals under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015, in that some 572 referrals were made under the Acts, relating to 810 specific grounds compared with 305 referrals in 2020.
Within the overall referrals, there were increases in seven of the 10 grounds provided for in the legislation.
The most notable increases were in disability at 298%, with 362 referrals, and a 91% increase in the family status, while referrals under the race ground recorded the second highest referral under the statutory grounds provided, with 85 referrals.
In equal status complaints, the sexual orientation ground was the least referred and has seen a reduction from 21 complaints in 2020 to eight in 2021, a decline of 62%.
Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, said: “Last year the WRC worked through the challenges that the global pandemic continued to present, and I commend everyone involved for ensuring that their services were maintained despite the difficult operational environment.
“The WRC delivered a robust workplace relations service and employment rights framework for employers and workers across Ireland for the betterment of the economy.”
Mr English said that the WRC recovered 964,281 euros in unpaid wages for workers over the year.
“I am confident that the WRC will continue to deliver its statutory remit while also pushing to innovate, improve, refine and reshape its services – ultimately delivering fair and compliant workplaces for all,” he added.