Workplace Relations Commission - Compliance and Inspection

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 17 August 2017
Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite Online

The Workplace Relations Commission enacted under the Workplace Relations Act 2015 on October 1st 2015 monitors the conditions of employment through its Inspection Services which was operated previously by the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA).

The WRC has the authority to carry out employment inspections in relation to the:

  • Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997
  • National Minimum Wage Act, 2000
  • Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996
  • Payment of Wages Act, 1991
  • Employment Permits Acts, 2003-2014
  • Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2012
  • Protection of Employment Act 1977 -2007
  • Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006
  • Carers Leave
  • Protection of Employees (Employers Insolvency) Acts 1984-2003

In addition to having the authority to conduct employment inspections, the WRC has many other functions including to:

  • Promote the improvement of workplace relations, and maintenance of good workplace relations
  • Promote and encourage compliance with the relevant laws.
  • Provide guidance in relation to compliance with codes of practice
  • Monitor developments
  • Conduct or commission relevant research and provide advice, information and the findings of research to Joint Labour Committees and Joint Industrial Councils
  • Advise the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in relation to the application of, and compliance with, relevant laws
  • Provide information to the public in relation to employment laws

Inspections are either carried out in relation to a specific complaint or a targeted inspection to a particular sector of employment. Where there has been a breach in relation to any particular employment legislation the Inspection Services may:

  • Request in writing that the Employer correct this
  • Carry out a further inspection or
  • Refer the matter for legal prosecution 

Employers are required by law to keep employment records of their employees at their place of employment. If the employer requires the inspection to be done elsewhere this must be communicated to the inspector who will then decide if this is a reasonable request.

The key for employers is to reach the required level of compliance and have such records readily available and up to date. Lack of compliance with statutory record keeping is a common breach found by inspectors. Inspectors will usually request records prior to one year of the date of inspection but can request records up to three years prior to the inspection.

Inspectors also have the right to ask to interview employees to verify information that the employer has provided.

Serious non-compliance or non-cooperation will invoke legal sanctions by the WRC under the Workplace Relations Act 2015. The Act also makes provision for payment of any such associated costs and expenses incurred in relation to the investigation and prosecution of the offence unless the court is satisfied that such award should not be made. The Act also empowers Workplace Relations Inspectors to issue fixed payment notices where they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed an offence under the specified legislation. A failure to pay the fine will result in prosecution by the Commission in the Courts.

To ensure compliance an employer should have the following checklist and be certain that they are compliant with the details of the checklist:

  • Employers registration number with revenue
  • Employees names, addresses and PPS number
  • Dates of commencement of employment and if necessary dates of termination of employment
  • Terms of employment for each employee
  • Employees job classification
  • Records of annual leave and holiday pay taken by each employee
  • Hours of work for each employee which must state start and finish times
  • Payroll details which must include gross to net, rate per hour, overtime, deductions, commission, bonuses and service charges etc.
  • Proof of providing employees with payslips
  • List of any employees under the age of 18
  • Details of any board or lodgings provided
  • Proof of employment permits (Non-EU Citizens)

Additional information or records may be requested to demonstrate compliance.

Equine Industry:

The WRC carry out inspections across all industries but as of recent, the equine industry has come under fire due to a recent Labour Court case which has exposed alleged non-compliance in line with employment legislation.

Ballydoyle Racing Stables is run by leading trainer Aidan O’Brien and following a pre-announced WRC inspection in 2016, alleged serious breaches in relation to employment law were identified. Barrister Rosemary Healy Rae, representing the WRC outlined that such breaches included employees:

  • Working up to 19 hours a day over a 24-hour period
  • Working for up to 28 consecutive days
  • Not been given their rest break entitlements

Following the WRC’s notice to comply with employment legislation, Ballydoyle has taken the matter in front of the Labour Court to challenge this decision.

Paul Gallagher a representative for Ballydoyle outlined in the Labour Court that the WRC never apprised themselves properly of the nature of the operation at Ballydoyle and subsequently the role of certain workers employed there. Mr Gallagher argued that due to the nature of their work being agricultural in an agricultural enterprise, they were exempt from the legislation under The Organisation of Working Time Act and therefore no breaches had occurred.

The Labour Court adjourned the hearing and the case is due to resume on August 28th 2017.

Although all industries must ensure that they are being compliant in line with employment law, the exposure of Ballydoyle Racing Stables has brought the equine industry into the limelight. We advise that all employers in this industry ensure they are up to date and compliant for the likely event of a WRC inspection.

This article is correct at 17/08/2017
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite Online

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline McEnery. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuiteonline.com

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