Staff left ethnic restaurant when inspector arrived to check work permits, court hears

Staff left ethnic restaurant when inspector arrived to check work permits, court hears

Al Hamza Food Ltd, trading as Bar BQ Tonight on Lower Clanbrassil Street, has pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to breaching the Employment Permits Act and Organisation of Working Time Act.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspector Mary Harte told Judge Anthony Halpin she visited the restaurant on November 8 last to check work permits. She was told the owner was not present but called him on the phone stating her intention to interview staff.

A number of employees left on her arrival before she had an opportunity to talk to them, she said.

The inspector returned in January in a joint operation involving the WRC, officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau and revenue inspectors.

Two Afghan workers in the restaurant did not have employment permits and relevant documents could not be provided, the court heard.

She agreed with defence solicitor Peter Connolly that the restaurant had no prior convictions.

He said the prosecution has helped the restaurant company regularise its position. It has nine workers and two of them were Irish, and the owner viewed the case quite seriously, he said.

Pleading for leniency, the solicitor said there will be no contravention in future.

He said the owner regretted the offences. He said a recorded conviction could cause difficulties for a restaurant specialising in ethnic food.

Judge Halpin noted the guilty plea and genuine remorse expressed. He accepted the specialist nature of this type of cooking but added that workers without permits were vulnerable.

The inspectors ensured compliance with employment legislation and that staff get paid and breaks.

He said he would spare the restaurant a recorded conviction by applying the Probation of Offenders Act if the owners donated €500 to the Little Flower Penny Dinners charity which helps underprivileged people in Dublin city centre’s Liberties area.

Adjourning the case until a date in September, he said the restaurant would otherwise get fined €1,500 and have a record for the offence.

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