COVID-19: Remote employment hearingsWednesday, 22 April 2020
The vast majority of employment law cases in Ireland are dealt with by the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”) at first instance, and by the Labour Court on appeal. In response to Irish Government restrictions on physical gatherings, WRC and Labour Court hearings have been postponed until 5 May 2020. The WRC has also postponed face-to-face conciliations and mediations, and cancelled on-site inspections. Telephone mediation is still ongoing, and is promoted by the WRC as a means to resolve complaints before hearing.
Both adjudication bodies are considering remote hearings in the event that Government restrictions prevent physical hearings in the longer term. The WRC has launched a consultation paper to explore alternative approaches for hearing complaints, including by way of written submission, or video conference, where appropriate. The WRC Consultation Paper is available here. Stakeholders are requested to make submissions on the proposals by 30 April 2020.
The Labour Court has indicated that it is currently testing options for remote hearings. When it has identified an appropriate technology it will begin to schedule hearings, prioritising hearings previously cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Where a case is selected for remote hearing the Court will contact the parties and check if they have capacity to attend such a hearing before scheduling the hearing. This process may be activated relatively quickly given that other appellate Courts in Ireland began remote hearings this week. The Labour Court statement is available here.
Please note that the content of this summary does not amount to professional advice. Legal and tax advice should be sought in respect of specific queries. The COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly and this update is provided on the basis of information available as at 22 April 2020.