Where and How do I make a claim?
You don’t have long and the first thing that you should definitely do is make contact with a solicitor who specialises in employment claims.
Employment Cases generally must be commenced within six months of the last date of the conduct you are complaining of, so it is imperative that you get legal advice quickly. If that is that you were less favourably treated than another employee, then it is six months from the last date of such less favourable treatment. If it is that you were harassed, then it is from the last instance or incident that you felt was inappropriate. That doesn’t mean that incidents which only happened in the last six months can be looked at, we call it a continuum and if it can be established that the incident that occurred in the last six months is part of a continuum of inappropriate conduct then all of those instances can be looked.
To apply to the Workplace Relations Commission for redress you simply complete and submit the workplace relations complaint form online at the WRC’s website www.workplacerelations.ie.
It is crucial that when completing this form, you correctly identify your employer. Many employers operate under a trading name but have been constituted in the form of a limited company. You must ensure that you correctly name that limited company on the form, as this is the legal entity that owes you a legal obligation. You can check the employer’s legal identity here www.vision-net.ie.
Once the claim is lodged, you will need to draft written submissions outlining what you allege your employer did wrong and highlighting the parts of employment law that you say they contravened. We usually instruct a barrister to assist with this and to draft the appropriate legal submissions.
Once these submissions have been filed and served on the other side, they are given an opportunity to file a reply. In this they will no doubt deny what it is you are alleging and maybe set out what in their opinion occurred. Assuming liability is denied it is up to an adjudicator to decide on the issue.
This is done at a formal hearing of the case and each side is given an opportunity to introduce evidence both oral and written, to cross-examine witnesses and to make additional oral submissions on the matter. It is usually the cross-examination that people fear most! Often that is why it is useful to have someone who is familiar with the set-up alongside you or at least someone there to support you. But rest assured it is not quite as bad as you would think. People are generally quite polite, and the Adjudicators are very well seasoned and take much care to ensure that witnesses are protected from inappropriate badgering or haranguing by either side. We do find however that employers are invariably represented by solicitors and often legal counsel (barristers) as well.
But, do I have to go to Court?
Employment cases are generally dealt with outside of the Court system, so It is very unlikely that you’ll ever have to go to a “Court”. You may however have to attend a hearing in the WRC at some point. If the advice is that your employer has breached your rights in employment law, the next step is usually to file a complaint to the workplace relations commission.
That really depends on what happens once the complaint is lodged and more importantly the attitude adopted by your employer. If they accept that they’ve done something wrong or if they have an aversion themselves to fighting you, they may well agree to pay you compensation. In those circumstances, no hearing will be necessary. We find that about 60% of our cases never make it to a formal hearing.
The other possibility is that they might deny any liability or wrongdoing and call upon you to prove your claim fully. We find that this is happening more often than before.
Even where a matter is initially fully fought, it is possible if not even likely that settlement discussions could happen. Many employers will string a complainant along initially, to see how serious they are, in the hope that they may drop the case. But when they see that this is not going to happen, they may well think twice and decide to try and resolve the dispute.
It is impossible to say at the outset of an employment claim which route an employer (and an employee) will take. It may be that the Claimant “wants their day in Court”! We never foist or insist on a claimant settling their case, that’s entirely up to them. All we can do is advise them of the merits of their case and of any offer made. At the end of the day, many of our Clients will say that it is not about the money, they want their employer to understand that they cannot treat people in this way.
Do I have a good case though?
Unfortunately, no claim is ever 100% guaranteed to succeed. The chances are though that if you have been unfairly treated at work, you may well be to entitled compensation.
The best way to establish whether or not you have a claim is to speak with an expert. Anyone who knows this area will want to investigate the matter further before definitively advising you on your chances of success or whether or not you have a case at all. However, if someone is willing to take your case on a no-win-no-fee basis this is usually a good indicator that you do have a claim with a reasonably good prospect of success.
But, as with most things in life, there are just no guarantees. Even if your case seems ‘cast iron’ at the outset, evidence may emerge in the meantime that may radically alter this assessment or it may turn out that the person who is liable to compensate you is completely worthless, meaning that the prospect of ever actually securing payment could be remote.
You don’t need to use the services of a solicitor at all to pursue a claim in the WRC. That’s part of the reason the WRC was established. They were set up as forums intended to facilitate individual claimants by allowing them to take a claim against an employer without the complication or cost of employing a solicitor.
The difficulty of course is that the employer is almost always represented by highly paid solicitors and even legal counsel such as Junior and even Senior Counsel.
And an individual claimant is faced with this. The cost of fighting a case in this way can be extremely high and very stressful.
However, most of our Clients are realists. They may know that they have a good case, but they also know that they have neither the legal expertise nor the capability of successfully handling their claim on their own.
They understand that by having the right representation, people who understand employment law and how it works and who have the experience of building a successful case and who know how the Adjudicators thinks, as well as how their opponents think, they’ve the best chance of getting a good result.
We’re dealing with the WRC and the Labour Court every day of the week. Many people still do manage their own claims. But it’s a fact that their applications are generally poorly prepared, badly submitted, managed and run and as a result they often fail, sometimes on mere technicalities.
When they are successful, they usually fail to achieve the full value of the claim.
Now to be clear, we’re not suggesting that anyone should ever or that we would ever entertain an embellished claim. In fact, we will never take a claim that we don’t truly believe is genuine and merited. That’s why we insist on meeting all of our Clients before proceeding and they fill in a client application form before we’ll take them on.
But while some people might make claims that are either disingenuous or dishonest, employers also often defend claims in this way. We know that unless you properly prepare, submit and run your claim you risk losing out on compensation that you deserve simply because you haven’t properly identified, explained or communicated your claim to the Adjudicator.
Often it’s the case that a claimant may not even themselves understand the merits of their case and it is only on review that we discover other avenues open to them. It is not simply a matter of just turning up and collecting compensation!
Given the complexity of many types of WRC cases, it is our view that you should definitely instruct someone who is a specialist, who knows their way around the WRC and who’s known there. Many solicitors are general practitioners who do a bit of everything and who may not familiar with the peculiarities of the WRC. Using a specialist gives you;
- Peace of mind that your claim is being dealt with by an experienced specialist who will guide you through an extremely complex process and ensure that no stone has been left unturned in seeking a legal remedy for what happened to you; and
- access to an expert professional who can advise on how best to maximise your prospects of success in your case and recover the true value of that to which you may entitled.
If your local or previous solicitor specialises in employment law claims, then he or she may well be the ideal solicitor for you. But what if they’re not? You certainly don’t have to limit your choice by geographical location or to someone you may have dealt with in the past on an unrelated matter.
We operate a nationwide service in employment law claims exclusively for employees and our clients come from all over the country.
Don’t worry about where your representative is when thinking about your employment claim. What is important is making sure that you get the right team, one that you are comfortable with and that they have the specialist skill and experience to handle your case successfully
To find out more about what is likely to be involved in your case and to get a free assessment case, please go here. Remember though, the time limits for making a claim are very strict so don’t delay! If you think you have a claim contact us today and we help you file your paperwork today.
To find out more about what is likely to be involved in your case and to get a free assessment of your case, please go here.