The WRC is currently staffed by almost 180 permanent employees (civil servants), and is supplemented by 27 Adjudication Officers that are contracted for five year periods to assist the Adjudication Service on a case by case basis.
The Publication refers to Section 22 (1) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015. This section provides for the requirement of the Board with consultation from the Director General to prepare and submit to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation a work programme of activities that the Commission intends to carry out in the year that it relates. This Programme must be submitted to the Minister by 1 December annually. The purpose of the Work Programme is to align activities with the WRC Strategy Statement 2016 – 2018 and therefore achieve its strategic goals.
Reviewing the Key Achievements of the Work Programme for 2016
The publication points to a number of successes in the first year of existence including:
· Establishing functioning corporate governance structures
· Publishing the Statement of Strategy 2016 – 2018, the Work Programme for 2016. The Business Plan 2016 and the Annual Report 2015
· Publishing six month and twelve month Commentaries on progress of the Commission
For further information on WRC achievements to date please see our article “WRC Annual Report Reveals 5,221 workplace inspections completed in 12 months” published in December 2016’s HRLink.
Key Goals of the Work Programme 2017
The goals have been divided based on external and internal focus:
Legacy and Current Adjudication Cases
Since inception, whilst ensuring new complaints are dealt with in ‘real time’ the WRC Adjudication Service has reduced the number of legacy complaints from 2397 in November 2015 to fewer than 1000, while the number of equality/equal status cases has halved to 892. The WRC intends to eliminate all legacy cases by mid 2017.
The publication states that the service has not been fully availed of by potential users. Possible reasons for this have been identified with stakeholders which will be used to instigate a campaign designed to raise awareness of the service, as well as adjust the delivery model in partnership with stakeholders and the annual WRC customer survey feedback.
Currently the website (www.workplacerelations.ie) is an information platform. Stakeholder feedback suggests improvement is required in terms of usability, and over 2017 the Commission will develop an interactive and process driven website delivering clear brand recognition, enhancing customer service and interaction with WRC, and yield considerable process efficiencies and savings.
A communication strategy will be rolled out designed to project fully the WRC organisational identity and achieve clarity amongst stakeholders on the range of services available.
The Commission will roll out a HR Policy on succession planning, coaching, mentoring, provision of legal advice and training and career development to ensure it has a talent pool sufficient to meet ongoing staff turnover and meet service demands.
Inspection and Enforcement IT Platform
A new IT administrative support platform will be developed in 2017 for the Inspection Division. This will deliver resource and process efficiencies and support the case management of WRC inspections and associated prosecutions.
The Publication addresses each of 7 Divisions in a sequential basis, this refers to Objectives, Actions/Tasks, Delivery Timeframe, KPI – a summary is included below.
Improve site-specific workplace relations, provide bespoke workplace training programmes for clients, rollout frequent user programme.
Conciliation/Early Resolution/Mediation Division
Provide timely and efficient Conciliation Service, maintaining current high success rate of same. Enhance the use of the mediation service using customer survey results, applicable in both employment rights and workplace relations disputes, reducing the need for Adjudication. Chair and facilitate industrial relations and statutory fora in both public and private sector
Clear legacy cases and deal with post-establishment cases within established timeframes. Delivery of high quality decisions; use of internal quality control review group to review decisions, ensure consistency and improve customer service. Ensure ICT systems facilitate delivery of efficient adjudication and mediation services.
Inspection and Enforcement Division
During 2017, focus will be on driving compliance through targeted inspections and use of Compliance Notices, Fixed Payment Notices and prosecutions. The KPI’s applied for 2017 for this division are 3,200 inspections (incl. 2000 unannounced). Similarly, where prosecutions are made there is a KPI of 90% success rate, and meeting with key stakeholders at least once in the year. Also a stated objective is to issue licences and enforce legislation in relation to employment Agencies and the employment of young Persons.
Information, Customer Service and Central Processing
Continued provision of advice on employment legislation and redress, with 90% of queries dealt with at initial query. Participate and deliver employment law seminars and presentations (KPI is 50 for 2017), update and re-publish information material in line with corporate branding and legislative changes.
In 2017 establish this function and make fully functional, providing legal training to staff and adjudicators throughout the year. In Q1 ensure appropriate resource access for all staff and adjudicators, both external and internal (databases) – establishing virtual and physical legal libraries. Manage legal costs for the Commission.
Maintain corporate governance, ensure the Commissions functions are delivered within budget, roll out the aforementioned HR strategy, drive customer brand recognition as well as value through technology. Ensure regular commentaries on WRC activities are published.
Whilst the Commission has established itself effectively at this point, it is clear the plans in respect of 2017 have been drawn up ambitiously. With corporate governance activities regularised, the plan provides for internally focussed measures including quality of decisions, customer service and the provision of legal training to employees and adjudicators (possibly in response to the stakeholder feedback invited by the WRC).
In terms of the 2017 service provision, there is also clear focus on mediation in the first instance (where accepted). Emphasis is also being placed on completely clearing any pre-establishment or “legacy” cases. The publication reaffirms confidence in the Inspection and Enforcement Division activities whose activity levels is set to continue apace this year in the form of targeted but unannounced inspections with consequent sanctions for any contraventions.
Thursday, 26 January 2017