OVER the last 12 months, the National Employment Rights Authority recovered €2.5m in owed wages for 6,000 workers who were not paid their statutory minimum entitlements by their employers.
NERA’s 2009 Review also revealed that a total of 108 employers were referred for prosecution for breaches of employment legislation in 2009 in comparison to 70 in 2008. In 27 cases, convictions were secured with fines ranging from €300 to €3,000.
The employment rights body’s inspectors visited approximately 8,800 during the year. NERA are tasked with enforcing the provisions of the national minimum wage and the Industrial Relations Acts which provide statutory entitlements for certain industries.
Speaking at the publication of the 2009 review, NERA director, Ger Deering, said there was a worrying trend among employers who were failing to comply with statutory record-keeping.
“The keeping of employment records is not simply a bureaucratic requirement,” he said.
“Proper record-keeping plays a key role in ensuring that employees get paid for the hours that they work and that they receive their minimum holiday entitlement. Lack of statutory records can also have very serious consequences in terms of pension, social welfare and redundancy entitlements. While NERA regularly detects minor, and sometimes inadvertent, infringements by employers in relation to record-keeping, in some cases poor or false records are used to mask underpayment of employees or breaches of other statutory entitlements.”
Mr Deering also warned that where employers refuse to co-operate with their inspectors or supply the necessary records, NERA has no option but to initiate a prosecution.
Labour Affairs Minister, Dara Calleary, said NERA was there to help employers as well as employees.
“The law is not there to catch people out: rather it is to ensure that everyone is afforded the same rights,” he said.
“NERA’s activities help not only individual workers to obtain their entitlements but also ensures that employers operate on a level playing-pitch. At this time, we need to do as much as we can to assist business. I am therefore pleased that NERA has, during 2009, invested considerable resources in assisting employers to meet their obligations under employment law, through a proactive education and awareness programme supported by focused inspection activity.”
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