Rights authority sees hike in prosecutions against firms

The number of court prosecutions taken by the National Employment Rights Authority against businesses increased by 20% to 84 last year. 

The prosecutions — with 70 taken against firms operating in the catering industry — resulted in fines of €109,800 and €41,226 in pay awards made to employees.

The number of inspections carried out by the authority increased by 18%, going from 4,689 in 2012 to 5,546 last year.

Its review for 2013 confirmed that the total amount of unpaid wages recovered from inspections totalled €824,052. The figure was €855,935 in 2012.

The food and drink sector was the most non-compliant area, with unpaid wages recovered totalling €252,109. The compliance rate was the lowest at 38%.

Officials carried out 417 inspections in the retail and wholesale sector that recouped €133,962 in unpaid wages.

In the construction sector, €103,579 in unpaid wages was recovered as a result of 138 inspections that showed a compliance rate of 51%.

The overall compliance rate across the sectors was 55%. Many inspections are unannounced and undertaken outside normal office hours, at night and at weekends.

The authority’s deputy director, Padraig Dooley, said: “While detection of non-compliance with employment rights legislation at the initial stage of inspections continues to be a cause for concern, we do work with many employers to achieve compliance and recover unpaid wages for employees. As a result, the number of employers prosecuted remains relatively low.”

The domestic work sector is not escaping the authority’s attention, with 31 inspections carried out in homes and other premises where domestic workers are employed. The main issue encountered was maintenance of employment records. Over €4,400 in arrears of wages was recovered for four workers.


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