Following the recent High Court Case new proposals in relation to JLC/REA's have been made by the government:
24-Nov-10 at 18.17 | Resolve HR Admin
Following today's decision to reduce the Minimum Wage rate to €7.65. The Government has signalled that the ERO and REA rates should be reviewed. In particular the Catering,...

NERA

The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) was established on an interim basis by the Government in February 2007 on foot of a commitment in the most recent social partnership agreement, Towards 2016. However NERA will not be established on a statutory basis until the Employment Law Compliance Bill is passed into law. This was due to take place in 2008, but at this point it looks like Autumn 2009 before this piece of legislation makes its way through the Dail. NERA is an Office of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and has its headquarters in Carlow, with regional offices in Cork, Dublin, Shannon and Sligo.

 

There are currently over 80 NERA inspectors and in 2008, they carried out a total of 27,900 calls, interviews and inspections. This is an increase of 96% on 2007. NERA Inspectors detected 4,629 breaches of employment law in 2008, compared to 2,344 in 2007. NERA recovered arrears from employers totaling €3,112,064.

 

NERA's powers come from the following legislation:

 

Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996

The Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997

Parental Leave Act, 1998

National Minimum Wage Act, 2000

Carers Leave Act, 2001

Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967 to 2003

Employment Agency Act, 1971

Protection of Employment Act, 1977

Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency)

Payment of Wages Act, 1991

Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006

 

How a NERA Inspection is Undertaken

 

NERA Inspectors can undertake both "announced" and "unannounced" inspections. In the case of 'announced inspections', the inspector will contact the employer by letter or telephone to advise the employer that it is intended to carry out an employment rights compliance inspection on their business and to make the necessary arrangements for undertaking the inspection. In the case of unannounced inspections, the inspector presents at the place of business and seeks the production of appropriate records.  

 

At the start of any inspection, the Inspector identifies themselves, shows their authorisation, which includes photographic identification, and explains to the employer the purpose of the inspection.  In some situations, more than one inspector may be required to carry out the inspection. In carrying out an inspection, the Inspector:

 

  • Will want to know who keeps and updates the records.
  • Will examines employment records to establish that they are in compliance with the relevant employment rights legislation.
  • Will want to check the rates of pay in respect of each employee using the rosters and the wages records presented.
  • Will informs the employer during the course of the inspection of any breaches of the legislation identified.
  • Can interview employees.   

 

An Inspection can last anything from 2-3 hours to a full day depending on the size of the business. Generally inspectors will seek access to the following records:

 

1. Employer registration number with the Revenue Commissioners

2. Full Name, Address and PPS Number for each employee (full-time and part-time)

3. Terms of employment (Contract) for each employee

4. Payroll details (Gross to Net, Rate per hour, Overtime, Deductions, Shift and other Premiums and Allowances, Commissions and Bonuses, Service Charges, etc.)

5. Copies of Payslips

6. Employees' job classification (Job Description)

7. Dates of commencement and where relevant, termination of employment

8. Hours of work for each employee (including starting and finishing times, meal breaks and rest periods)

9. Register of employees under 18 years of age

10. Whether board and/or lodgings are provided and relevant details

11. Holidays and Public Holiday entitlements received by each employee

12. Any documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance with employment rights legislation

 

Additional records may be required to be held depending on the sector/business involved and the legislation under which the inspection is being conducted. For example Hotels and Retail Grocers would be required to comply with the relevant JLC.

 

After the inspection NERA will contact the employer in writing to advise them of the outcome of the inspection. What happens next depends on the following:

 

Where breaches have been identified, NERA will:

  • Issue a letter to the employer requesting them to rectify the breaches. 
  • Refer the matter to Legal Services for prosecution
  • Undertake a further inspection

Where arrears of wages are due to employees, the employer will be required to forward evidence that payment has been subsequently made to the employee(s). Failure to respond (or inadequate response) to NERA's letter could result in a second inspection together with notice that any breaches (new or continuing) found will be automatically passed to Legal Services for prosecution.

 

As highlighted above last year NERA made awards of arrears totalling €3,112,064 and referred 70 cases for prosecution. In addition NERA also shares information inspections with the Revenue Commissioners and the Dept of Social and Family Affairs. See Blog for proposed NERA inspections in the Hospitality sector in 2009 and see our News section for further information on NERA's focus on Work Permits from 01 July 09.

Over the last twelve months Resolve HR has helped a wide variety of small and large businesses succesfully prepare for NERA inspections. We have also been engaged to give hands on support post-inspection where businesses are attempting to update their policies and procedures on foot of a letter from NERA. For further information and for advice on how to prepare for a NERA inspection please Contact Us