WRC 2019 Inspection Targets – what can we expect?Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 12 March 2019
The Workplace Relations Commission monitors employment conditions to ensure the compliance and enforcement of employment rights legislation. The Inspections service carry out inspections and gather information in relation to the forty plus pieces of employment law in Ireland.
The WRC can schedule inspections for a number of reasons: receipt of a complaint or a random inspection based on your location or industry. Recent figures released confirmed that 4,747 inspections were carried out in total in 2017. The WRC inspections carried out in 2017 resulted in €1.77m in recovered wages for employees. This was an increase of €270,000 from the previous year. By far, the most common legislative breach was in relation to insufficient employment records, accounting for over 50% of the breaches identified. In terms of prosecutions, inspections led to 125 prosecutions. Of the 93 prosecutions that resulted in convictions, the largest proportion, 72 were in the Food and Drink sector. Of the 93 convictions, 60 of these were breaches of the Employment Permits Acts.
The WRC recently published their “Work Programme for 2019” which outlines the goals for the Commission in the coming year. There is a heavy focus on inspections in this programme. The target set for 2019 is a total of 5,000 including 2,500 unannounced inspections, meaning that there is no planned slowdown of inspections any time soon. As well as ensuing that the target of 5,000 inspections is met this coming year, the WRC has also outlined its intention to carry out increased inspections in specific targeted sectors. These include Equine, Nail Bars, Fisheries Car Washes and professional sectors.
Inspections can be both announced and unannounced. In an announced visit the Inspector will write to you in advance of their attendance and ask you to confirm the same. If you have a valid reason as to why the inspection cannot be carried out at the appointed time, you should contact the Inspector as soon as possible to arrange an alternative date and time. An unannounced visit may occur if the Inspector is in the area. It would be important to ensure that your records are up to date in this respect at all times. If an Inspector arrives unannounced it might be important to ask them to have the meeting at another time when your HR is available to attend and you can get the records ready.
The best way to prepare for an inspection is to ensure that your employment records are up to date. An employer is required by employment law to retain records for a period of three years. When an inspection notice is received it should contain a template with a number of questions this can be completed prior to the inspection and can help to ensure all is in order before the inspector arrives.
What can happen if you are found to not be compliance with the legislation? This is dependent on the severity of the controversy. In a case where the non – compliance is minor or inadvertent, the Inspector will ask the employer to rectify them. Once rectified, the file is closed. In a case where an employer is found to have underpaid employees (either current or former), the employer will be asked to calculate the extent of any unpaid wages due to employees. This will then be checked by the Inspector to ensure the rates of pay are in compliance with current legislation. The employer will then be required to pay the employee the amount owed to them. They will then be required to submit the WRC Unpaid Wages Payment Form with evidence that the payments have been made.
In a case where the employer refuses to comply with the law, fails to cooperate with the inspection process, and/or has been found repeatedly in breach of the law, the WRC may invoke legal sanctions against the employer. This can include the issue of Compliance Notices and Fixed Payment Notices and/or prosecution. As previously mentioned, inspections in 2017 led to 125 prosecutions of which 93 resulted in convictions.
The WRC regularly work in conjunction with other Government Departments when carrying out these inspections and are often accompanied to premises with personnel from Department of Justice who deal with work permits and immigrations issues, as well as personnel from the Department of Social Protection or the Revenue Commissioners.
The HR Suite can conduct a full audit of your HR practices to ensure that you are compliant with the relevant legislation as inspected by the WRC. If you require further information or advice on how to proactively prepare for inspection, please contact them on the contact details below.
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.