The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) can carry out an inspection of your workplace at any time following a complaint from an employee or simply at random.
For many employers, notification of an upcoming inspection can strike fear into their hearts. Why? Because they know already they are not compliant with employment legislation and fear that when caught their whole approach to their business might need to change!
Workplace inspections are carried out to ensure compliance with employment rights legislation including working time, minimum wage, protection of young persons, parental leave, information and consultation and redundancy payments.
In 2016 the WRC completed 4830 inspections, of which 2877 (60%) were unannounced, and found 1981 employers in breach of employment legislation. The sectors showing a higher degree of non-compliance were Electrical (60%), Hair and Beauty (53%), Construction (49%), Agriculture (47%) and Wholesale and Retail (45%).
The WRC’s stated aim in 2017 is to target those sectors with a higher risk of non-compliance so employers in those industries will almost certainly be targeted again in 2017.
By far the most common breach detected by WRC Inspectors was the failure to keep adequate employment records (62%) followed by employment permits irregularities (17%).
WRC Inspectors are also empowered to work in Joint Investigation Units with the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners and to exchange information with these bodies. There is a growing emphasis on collaborative work between government agencies. A total of 657 such joint investigation visits were carried out by Inspectors from the WRC with their counterparts in the Revenue Commissioners and/or the Department of Social Protection. WRC Inspectors were accompanied by Gardaí during inspections in some instances.
The WRC also works closely with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and the Garda National Protective Services Unit in terms of reporting of potential immigration and human trafficking issues encountered during inspections.
There are occasions where the WRC invoke legal sanctions against non-compliant employers. This can arise in respect of offences that arise when an employer fails to comply with a Compliance or Fixed Penalty notice. There are also separate offences which may be prosecuted in their own right before the courts. These include, for example, a failure to pay the minimum hourly rate of pay under the National Minimum Wage Act.
Whether you have been advised of an upcoming inspection, or if you need to reach compliance targets set out by the WRC following an inspection, our experienced HR Consultants can help take the fear out of the inspection and guide your business through the entire process. We don’t judge! We’re there to help! For further information on our compliance services contact Mary Cullen, Liam Barton, Keith Connolly or Patrick Foley at 056 7701 060.