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WRC 2023 Annual Report Round Up

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Annual Report (the Report) provides useful insights into the activities of the WRC. In addition, it details the numbers of complaints received by the WRC in 2023.

WRC developments

The WRC made significant progress in 2023 in its development of the Code of Practice on the Right to Request Remote/Flexible Working. This Code was published in March 2024. It sets out practical guidance for employers and employees regarding requests for flexible and remote working.

While the Code of Practice is not legally binding, non-compliance is admissible as evidence in the event of a claim. An employer will be hard-pressed to defend claims where its policies and procedures for responding to requests for flexible/remote working do not align with the Code of Practice.

The WRC also began to develop a new eComplaint form. This form will enable the public to submit complaints with greater efficiency. The new form has yet to be rolled out.

Complaint trends

The Report shows a 1% reduction in the total number of complaint applications compared to 2022, with 6,172 complaint applications made in total. However, there were 14,158 individual complaints, representing an increase of 11% in individual complaints on the previous year.

The largest proportion of individual complaints related to pay (26%), followed by unfair dismissals (13%). There was an increase of 21% in unfair dismissal claims compared to 2022.

There was also a significant increase (201%) in complaints made under the Protected Disclosure Act 2014 (as amended). This was to be expected in the wake of the Protected Disclosures Act 2022, which came into operation on 1 January 2023. For more information on this legislation, please view our previous article.

Individual complaints relating to discrimination remained relatively stable in comparison to 2022, accounting for 13% of all complaints. Of these complaints:

  • 71% of complaints related to employment equality
  • 27% related to equal status, and
  • 2% related to the Pensions Act 1990

Mediation and hearings


2023 saw a rise in the number of adjudication hearings both scheduled and held, with increases of almost 13% and 12% respectively. Requests for interpreters increased by 48%. The Report observed that interpreters are often essential in ensuring appropriate communication between witnesses and Adjudication Officers.


The WRC provides conciliation services across a range of industrial relations issues. There were 654 referrals for conciliation in 2023, which represents a 17% increase on the previous year. The main disputes at conciliation related to pay (43%), organisational structure (26%) and industrial relations issues (20%). The Report noted that the success rate of the conciliation services was over 85%.


The WRC provides pre-adjudication mediation and workplace mediation. Pre-adjudication mediation increased by 19% in comparison to 2022, and by 57% in comparison to 2021. The Report attributed this increase mainly to the provision by default of in-person mediation where there is a specific complaint under unfair dismissal legislation. The Report also highlighted the benefit, particularly for employers, that mediation provides confidentiality, whereas adjudications take place in public.

Mediation continues to provide a valuable alternative to adjudication. Of the 785 meditations that took place in 2023, 443 ended in resolution. The overall resolution rate of mediation increased by 48% compared with 2022 and 2021.


Notably, the number of decisions issued by the WRC increased by 50% in comparison with its 2022 output. The Report noted a pattern of hearings now requiring additional days, due to:

  • Case complexity
  • Oaths/affirmations
  • Examination/cross-examination, and
  • Adjournments

Workplace inspections and employer prosecutions

WRC inspections are generally focused on sectors where a risk of non-compliance has been identified. In 2023, 4727 employers were inspected, marking an increase of almost 20% on 2022, with 2221 of these employers found to be in breach of employment law obligations. In addition, €1.95 million in unpaid wages was recovered by the WRC in 2023 – an increase of 39% compared to 2022.

Of particular note, is that Food & Beverage service activities appear to have been a particular target for inspections in 2023, with 38% of inspections covering this sector. 58% of employers in this sector who underwent inspections were found to be in breach.

While the Report noted that many employers become compliant once inspected, a number do not become compliant, with 125 prosecutions undertaken in 2023, 111 of which were successful.


The WRC continues to play a pivotal role in Ireland’s employment law and industrial relations landscape. The Report highlights an expanded uptake in and increased provision of WRC services such as mediation and adjudication hearings. The information contained in it also reflects the experience of employees and employers. It highlights the issues that bring them into conflict, some of which change from year to year. The changes reflect trends in our society and economy.

The Report shows that dismissals, pay and equality issues tended to generate the most referrals to the WRC for adjudication in 2023. There was a significant increase in the number of claims regarding protected disclosures in the wake of new legislation in this area. Employers should establish whether they have appropriate policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance with their legal requirements in each of these areas.

The number of WRC inspections and successful prosecutions for breaches of employment law increased in 2023. Employers should be prepared for similarly robust approach to inspections and enforcement in 2024.

For more information, please contact a member of our Employment & Benefits team

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

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