Wednesday, 20 April 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
231. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of inspectors involved in the supervision of working and pay conditions of employees throughout the country, both nationals and non-nationals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12487/05]
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Killeen): Following my recent announcement on 12 April there are now 31 labour inspector posts. Immediate steps have been taken to source the new inspectors initially from within the existing staff complement of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment. Accordingly, I expect early appointments.
Pending these new appointments, there are 17.5 labour inspectors in the inspectorate. One inspector is currently on long-term sick leave and one job-sharing inspector is on extended unpaid leave. A further two inspectors are currently engaged in assisting the Employment Appeals Tribunal to process a backlog of cases.
A number of other officials at team leader and management grades within the employment rights compliance section are warranted as inspectors and perform such duties as required. The labour inspectors are supported by six administrative staff and the inspectorate makes up just one part of the employment rights compliance section, the other elements being the employment rights information unit and the employment rights prosecution and enforcement section.
232. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he monitors the pay and working conditions of non-nationals to whom work permits have been issued here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Killeen): The labour inspectorate of my Department is responsible for monitoring certain employment conditions for all categories of workers in Ireland, including immigrant workers. Inspectors pursue allegations of worker mistreatment and when evidence of non-compliance with the relevant employment rights legislation is found, the inspectorate seeks redress for the individual or individuals concerned and, if appropriate, a prosecution is initiated. Statutory employment rights and protections apply to immigrant workers in exactly the same manner as they do to native Irish workers. I have recently announced a 50% increase in the numbers of labour inspectors and have directed that these additional officers focus particularly on the sectors where non-EEA employees are most numerous.
In addition, where employers seek work permits in order to employ non-EEA nationals, the Department requires the statement of the main functions of the job, salary-wages, deductions, other than statutory, other benefits and hours to be worked per week. Both the proposed employer and the proposed employee must sign this statement. Work permits are not granted unless there is compliance with minimum wages legislation. Applications for renewals require confirmation that the stated wages have been paid; P60 and other sources are used. If there is evidence that particular employers are exploiting immigrant workers I would ask that it be brought to the attention of the labour inspectorate for investigation and further action.
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