Skip to main content Skip to main menu

Labour Court Annual Report 2020

The Annual Report for 2020 is now available here.

The Labour Court like many organisations and sectors of society experienced a challenging year in 2020. COVID-19 impacted on activities in 2020 with the Courts capacity to hold physical hearings reduced significantly. The Court responded by re-configuring its physical court room space to accommodate hearings when public health guidelines allowed. The creation of a Virtual Court Room allowed parties to attend hearings of the Court from remote locations which greatly reduced the impact of COVID-19 on the Courts ability to fulfil its statutory remit.

In 2020, the Court received 940 appeals/referrals appeals and referrals under the various statutes within its jurisdiction in 2020 - a 20% decrease in referrals compared to 2019.

Of these:

  • referrals of industrial relations disputes decreased to 316 in 2020 from 479 in 2019, while
  • referrals in employment rights appeals decreased by 11.24% from 703 in 2019 to 624 in 2020

The proportion of referrals to the Court which were employment rights based was 66% - continuing a trend that has been maintained since 2015. Prior to that date referrals of industrial relations and employment rights disputes were almost exactly 50:50.

There was a total of seven industrial disputes in progress in 2020 involving 22,076 workers, whereas 42,656 workers were involved in nine industrial disputes in 2019. This reducing level of industrial strife continues a trend from 2019, suggesting that the supports available to parties to disputes, up to and including engagement with the Labour Court, continue to operate well.

The reduction in appeals and referrals to the Labour Court reflected the impact of the pandemic on organisations across the State during 2020. Movement restrictions commencing in the first quarter of the year severely curtailed the Court’s capacity to convene hearings in a physical Courtroom, as had been the practice since the Labour Court’s inception in 1946. In order to continue to deliver on its mandate, the Court rapidly developed the capacity to fairly hear cases in a technology based virtual Courtroom.

The development of the Virtual Courtroom and of protocols to maintain fairness for all parties to proceedings held remotely minimised to the extent possible the impact of the pandemic on the Court’s activities. The Court will continue to use a combination of Virtual and physical hearings while restrictions remain and will retain and further develop its remote capacity in support of its mandate into the future.

The Virtual Courtroom came into operation on 2nd June 2020. Of the 1065 hearings scheduled by the Court in 2020, 35% were scheduled in a virtual courtroom.  In November, the Virtual Courtroom was recognised in the 2020 Civil Service Civil Excellence and Innovation Recognition Event, in the award category ‘Excellence in Customer Services.’

Further information: Bernie Byrne, The Labour Court –