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5.5 LAW, Law
The Workplace Relations Act 2015 fundamentally reformed the workplace dispute resolution system in Ireland–the centrepiece being the Workplace Relations Commission, the new body for first-instance dispute resolution. While the overall system is an improvement on its overly-complex and confusing predecessor, the Supreme Court’s decision in Zalewski v An Adjudication Officer declaring aspects of adjudication at the WRC unconstitutional, coupled with user representatives’ persistent concerns about how adjudication is conducted, present ongoing challenges.
This article describes the results of a survey undertaken in 2019 by the author of over one hundred representatives’ views on the system, and contextualises them in light of Zalewski. Based on findings from the survey—the third in a series of such surveys since 2011–and the requirement to amend WRC adjudication processes following Zalewski, the author suggests that the WRC could reframe how it presents and delivers its dispute resolution services at first instance to help better serve workers and employers in dispute. Specifically, the WRC could enhance its Mediation Service both in terms of how mediation is presented and how it is delivered, so that it is perceived by users and representatives as a mainstay dispute resolution mechanism rather than as a secondary offering to the Adjudication Service. Such a recalibration could help achieve a better balance of informal, flexible dispute resolution through mediation in tandem with constitutionally-compliant adjudication with more robust procedures.
(2021) 66 The Irish Jurist 44, DOI: 10.21427/87r5-kn74