The Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008 will place NERA (National Employment Rights Authority) on a statutory footing. The Bill is currently before the Oireachtas and includes provisions on NERA's inspection powers and penalties for non compliance with employment legislation.

NERA has recently published a guide to inspections on their website setting out the records to be made available by employers for inspection and the general powers of inspectors. The guide sets out the standard records which an inspector will require access to during the course of an inspection including:

  • Employer registration number with the Revenue Commissioners.
  • List of all employees, their contact details and PPS numbers.
  • Terms of employment for each employee.
  • Payroll details.
  • Evidence that payslips have been provided to staff.
  • Employee's job classification.
  • Dates of commencement and termination of employment.
  • Hours of work for each employee.
  • Register of employees under eighteen years of age.
  • Whether board and/or lodgings are provided and relevant details.

In addition to the above, NERA may also seek from employers any documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance with employment rights legislation.

Whilst inspectors can carry out both announced and unannounced inspections of employers' premises, most inspections take place at a time pre-agreed with the employer following notification by NERA to the employer of the proposed inspection. NERA will normally, in advance of the inspection taking place, furnish to the employer a list of the records which they will be seeking during the inspection.

If an employer appears to be in breach of the legislation, they will be informed during the course of the inspection and the inspector will also write to the employer following the inspection notifying them of the outcome of same. The employer will either be called to remedy the breach or will be informed that as a result of the inspection the matter has been referred for prosecution.

In circumstances where an inspection may ultimately give rise to a criminal prosecution against the employer, it is essential that employers take all appropriate measures to protect themselves against possible prosecution. In that regard, relevant members of staff should be fully informed on how to deal with any notification of a proposed inspection received from NERA. Employers should prepare themselves adequately in advance of any inspection including, ensuring that the information and documentation referred to above is to hand and all employment records, policy and procedures and contracts of employment are fully up to date and in compliance with employment legislation.