Employers will now be expected to honour a code of practice under which they will provide the employee with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment to the employee including a list of duties, hours of work, rates of pay and periods of annual leave.
It also requires that the employer shall not withhold personal documentation that belongs to the employee such as a passport, visa, ID cards or bank account documentation.
“It is sad and to our eternal shame in this country that the availability of other nationals to work here is for some employers there to be exploited,” said the chief executive of Labour Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey.
“We should have enough sense of our own history to know what was done to us should not be done to others who we invite into our country and invite into our homes.”
Mr Killeen said the code will cater for “a new category of workers that has lacked visibility, lacked definition and lacked redress up until now”.
“I think it is extremely significant that a whole grey area of the Irish economy has now come into compliance and regulations and individuals who can be in an extraordinarily exploitative situation — unknown in some cases — can now have access to services of the State and seek redress,” he said. “We have come across some extreme cases of exploitation and hopefully, this code will eliminate that underbelly of employment in Ireland.”
Project coordinator with the Migrant Rights Centre Edel McGinley welcomed the code but warned it was not enforceable. “There are no sanctions there and that is really the nub of it.”
Meanwhile, the Irish Congress of Trade Union has claimed recruitment agencies are discriminating against female jobseekers, particularly those who are pregnant or disabled.
The ICTU surveyed 280 jobseekers on their perception of employment agencies and their role in the recruitment process and found that some agencies are being used by employers for “equality avoidance” — to circumvent equality provisions of employment law.
The ICTU is now demanding that legislation be put in place to stop equality law being circumvented and to ensure that agency workers are not treated as “second-class citizens”.
“Ireland, Britain and Hungary are the only three EU members that do not legislate for equal treatment for agency workers, meaning it is perfectly legal for such workers to be paid less and have worse working conditions than permanent employees,” a union spokesman said.