Wednesday, 21 June 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
76. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in order to enable the Labour Inspectorate to meet the needs of a changing workforce and the specific difficulties faced by migrant workers he will ensure affirmative action is taken in order that a proportion of the inspectors are from these communities; and if, failing same, he will ensure that a proportion of all new inspectors employed are proficient in foreign languages relevant to where the majority of the migrant workers are from. [23483/06]
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Killeen): The enforcement of Employment Rights Compliance is primarily based around the legislative provisions governing the statutory records that employers are required to maintain. The generality of investigative work undertaken by Labour Inspectors does not require that they be competent in a variety of languages. Where the need for interpretation services are required, such as in the area of Statement taking or the translation of documents, the Inspectorate has adequate access to a panel of competent individuals who can provide the services necessary in a very broad range of languages.
While I am satisfied that the Labour Inspectorate can, and is, discharging its remit I am equally aware that there are undoubted new and growing challenges arising out of the changing nature of the workforce and economic development. In this regard, I am confident that the proposals for enhancements to the Employment Rights Compliance regime, as agreed with the Social Partners in the new National Agreement, will enable the Labour Inspectorate to manage that evolving remit most effectively.
In the context of other commitments undertaken in the recent Social Partnership talks a major Education and Awareness programme dealing with all aspects of Employment Rights entitlements and obligations will be delivered over the period of the Agreement. While both employers and employees generally will be targeted in the programme a particular feature of this initiative will be a focus on dissemination of Employment Rights information to workers from overseas.
The Employment Rights Information Unit (ERIU) produces a range of materials, e.g. information leaflets and booklets that provide a condensed and simplified version of the large corpus of Employment Rights legislation that is currently on the Statute Books. With particular regard for the needs of workers from overseas the Department has translated key Employment Rights information into nine languages and made this available both in leaflet form and on the Department’s website. This information is available in the following languages; Chinese, Czech, English, Hungarian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Russian. The Employment Rights Information Unit distributes thousands of information leaflets and booklets either directly to applicants, through the nation-wide network of citizen information centres and other outlets.
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