The Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, has said the Government will act “without delay” to enable the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to continue to discharge its functions in line with the Constitution.
This follows a Supreme Court ruling that the exercise of powers by the WRC’s adjudication officers under the Workplace Relations Act 2015 was the administration of justice within the meaning of article 37 of the Constitution.
As a result of the decision, a number of cases due before the WRC over the coming weeks may need to be adjourned until the legislation is enacted.
In its judgment in Zalewski v Adjudication Officer and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Ireland, and the Attorney General, the court rejected a challenge to the 2015 act, but found that two aspects of the legislation were incompatible with the Constitution.
The judgment means that, while the WRC is entitled to administer justice, legislative amendments will be needed to bring its operations into line with the Constitution.
The Government said the changes would provide for the ability to hear evidence on oath or affirmation, and the power to prosecute for perjury. Hearings will also generally have to be heard in public.
Minister English said it was crucial that the WRC could hear cases and make rulings, adding that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment was currently drafting emergency legislation to be introduced “as a matter of urgency in the coming weeks”.