The Workplace Relations Commission recovered €1.5m in unpaid wages last year for workers who took cases through its employment rights services, according to its first annual report published today. 

The WRC was set up on 1 October 2015 to streamline employment rights bodies by amalgamating the Rights Commissioner Service, the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Equality Tribunal and the National Employment Rights Authority.

The report indicates that the  WRC Adjudication Service processed almost 15,000 complaints during 2016.

The WRC information line received 63,000 calls, while the website had 440,000 hits - up 23% on the previous year. 

It notes that 75% of adjudication complaints are now heard within 5 months, compared to the previous regime, when complainants could have to wait two years for a hearing. 

WRC Director General Oonagh Buckley acknowledged that the early stages of establishing the WRC had proved challenging, but said they were clearly on the right track in achieving the objective of being a world class workplace relations service.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen welcomed the fact that five new regional venues for hearings will be added this year in Donegal, Mayo, Kerry, Monaghan and Kilkenny. 

He said the WRC was working to ensure that decisions on all complaints are issued within six months - adding that the report showed real progress towards achieving that goal. 

He also noted that the Inspection arm of the WRC was delivering increased compliance with employment legislation on the part of employers.