As Christmas draws ever closer, it is timely to review the HR issues that have arisen for your organisation during the course of 2016 with a view to planning your strategy for 2017. The Employment Team thought it would be helpful to highlight some of the major issues in employment law that have dominated during the course of the last 12 months and will continue to do so. These are the areas which should form part of your HR strategy for 2017.

In the second of our series of Insights, we look at workplace inspections and what you need to think about should a Workplace Inspector come calling.

Introduction

Padraig Dooley, the Director and Chief Labour Inspector with the WRC recently presented on the inspection role carried out by Mr Dooley and his team in the WRC. Mr Dooley confirmed that the WRC now carries out approximately 5,000 workplace inspections every year, of which approximately 2% result in criminal prosecutions against employers. About half of the inspections carried out by the WRC on an annual basis are unannounced inspections.

The WRC has divided inspection zones into five regions – Carlow, Cork, Shannon, Sligo and Dublin. Inspectors will, where possible, work with an employer to achieve compliance. The main areas that lead to prosecution of employers arising from inspections are employment permits, national minimum wage issues and falsification of documents.

With that level of inspections on an annual basis, all employers must face the reality that they could be subject to an inspection by the WRC at any time. The purpose of such an inspection is to examine the books and records of the employer to ensure compliance with employment law. A new year is always a good time to conduct a HR audit to make sure you are in good shape as an employer from the perspective of your paperwork. Our aim is to help you with that exercise.

The Inspection

Padraig Dooley confirmed that the following are the records which will be sought by WRC Inspectors:

  • Written terms and conditions for all employees.
  • Documentation relating to the employment of foreign nationals.
  • Documentation relating to the employment of young persons.
  • Payroll details and payslips for all employees.
  • Working hours, holidays, breaks and rest time – employers must have a Form OWT1 or equivalent in respect of working hours in this regard.
  • Documentation relating to employees on protected leave.
  • Documentation relating to termination of employment and redundancy.

The Labour Inspectors have very wide powers to enter premises and inspect records and take copies of relevant documentation. They also have the power to interview Directors and other employees in an organisation. Padraig Dooley provided a useful checklist, which is set out below, which all employers should now review in preparation for a WRC inspection. As Padraig Dooley put it, if you can answer yes to all of the questions set out on the checklist, your WRC inspection will be a short one.

Enforcement

As outlined above, WRC Inspectors will work with employers to achieve compliance and will seek to avoid utilising their enforcement powers wherever possible. Having said that, the WRC Inspectors have wide powers of enforcement available to them if needed. For example, they have the power to issue a “Fixed Payment Notice” which is effectively an on the spot fine for failure to comply with certain legislative provisions, such as the obligation to provide payslips and the obligation to collectively consult in a redundancy situation. The WRC can also prosecute the employing entity and can also prosecute Directors of that entity. The WRC also “names and shames” non-compliant employers in this regard.

Suggested Action Now

We advise that all employers should now take the opportunity to review the WRC checklist and conduct a HR audit with a view to ensuring your organisation is ready for a WRC inspection. Our Employment Team will be happy to assist you with this exercise and please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Team for further advice and assistance in this regard. Your starting point is the checklist and any documentation referred to in this list which is not already in place in your organisation should be put in place as soon as possible.

WRC Inspection Checklist

Do I Have? Yes/No
My employer's registration with the Revenue Commissioners   
A list of all my employees: including full names, addresses and PPSNs  
Dates of commencement and, if relevant, dates of termination of employments  
Written terms of employment for each of my employees  
Employees' job classification  
 A record of annual leave and public holidays taken by each employee  
Hours of work for each employee (including start and finishing times)  
Payroll details: including gross to net, rate per hour, overtime, deductions,commission, bonuses & service charges etc.   
Evidence that I provide employees with payslips  
A register of any employees under 18 years of age (& licences if necessary)   
Details of any board and lodgings provided  
Employment permits/ evidence that permits are not required - non- EEA persons   
The completed template sent with the employment letter or similar