Freight Transport Association Ireland is calling on the Irish government to set fees for the Labour Court’s adjudication service to prevent it being overrun with “frivolous” claims against employers.
The Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has resolved issues around working time legislation for mobile workers with the introduction of Statutory Instrument 342, which clarifies differing regulations for night working, breaks, daily and weekly rest. It also confirms that the tachograph is a lawful instrument for recording working time.
However, many employers have complained to FTA Ireland that the Labour Court is being used to present groundless, frivolous and vexatious complaints against them. The practice has become endemic among a small number of firms of solicitors who encourage employers to settle complaints with cash pay-outs.
Neil McDonnell, FTA Ireland’s General Manager, said: “It is an unacceptable use of the national industrial relations machinery and a waste of taxpayers’ money, that the Labour Court is being used to pursue frivolous claims against employers. It is also delaying access to the Labour Court by genuine claimants.
“We ask that the Jobs Minister imposes fees provided for under Sec 71 of the Work Relations Act 2015, in order to stamp out vexatious claims.”
Mr McDonnell said tens of thousands of euros had been awarded by the Labour Court against the employers of mobile workers, in determinations which had no basis under EU law.
“We are grateful the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has belatedly recognised this, and closed down the loophole with the new Statutory Instrument. We believe parties wishing to use the adjudication service should be liable for a fee of €750, and €1,000 at Labour Court level. This liability should only be payable by the losing party after a determination against them.”
Mr McDonnell said the Work Relations Act 2015 provided a mechanism for Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, to stop this practice. Section 71 of the new act allows the Minister to levy fees to access the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) machinery.
In addition, FTA Ireland believes that where multiple complaints are made, a fee per complaint should be levied. Where the complainant withdraws more than one fifth of complaints made, their case should no longer be entertained by the LRC.