Workplace Relations Commission Inspection & Enforcement
The recently published Annual Report from the Workplace Relations Commission highlighted that the Inspection and Enforcement Services of the WRC conducted just under 4,000 employer inspections this past year and with that, found that 1,763 breaches of employment legislation took place. The significance of these breaches resulted in the recovery of just over €1.4 million in unpaid wages demonstrating the critical nature of maintaining compliant records and practices.
As with all legal obligations from an employment perspective there is a requirement for employers to act in compliance, including the maintenance of employment records. The WRC inspection process is a means to both checking and ensuring compliance, and part of that process involves inspectors visiting places of employment, which can be either announced or unannounced. As inspectors are legally entitled to enter any workplace to carry out their work and an obstruction or the provision of misleading information to an inspector is a criminal offence, it is essential that all employers seek advice and guidance on their legal obligations in particular to mitigate any liability that could arise from non-compliance.
Included below are some frequently asked questions and answers that Organisations need to know to be inspection ready. If your Organisation requires support in maintaining and ensuring compliance speak to a member of our team now for details of our HR Partnership Programme services and how Adare Human Resource Management can partner with you for all your HR and employment law needs.
Workplace Relations Commission Inspection
What powers do the Inspectors have?
Inspectors’ Powers/Warrants Prior to the commencement of an inspection, the Inspector is required to identify themselves and produce their Warrant of Appointment to the employer or their representative and explain the nature and purpose of the visit/inspection together with the legislative basis upon which they are acting.
How is an Employer notified of an inspection?
In general, an employer will get advance notice of an inspection. An appointment letter, giving a proposed date and time for the inspection, will be sent to the employer. If he/she has a valid reason as to why the inspection cannot be carried out at the appointed time, the employer should contact the Inspector as soon as possible to arrange an alternative date and time. In some instances, the Inspector may also call unannounced.
Where does an inspection take place?
Employers are required by law to keep their employment records at the place of employment. The Inspector will generally assume that this is where the inspection will take place. If an employer wishes to have the inspection carried out elsewhere, he/she should contact the Inspector, who will consider any reasonable requests to carry out the inspection at an alternative location.
If an employer requires clarifications or updates from an inspection, what can they expect?
WRC Inspectors are required to provide a quality response to any written correspondence as soon as possible, but not later than ten working days from the date of receipt and to return phone calls within two working days.
Can an employer be represented at an inspection?
Where an employer would like the Inspector to deal with a representative, the employer will be required to complete a Form of Authority confirming that the WRC may disclose relevant information to the third party.
How can an employer prepare for an inspection?
The best way to prepare for an inspection is for the employer to ensure that he/she has the up-to-date employment records required by law available on the day of the inspection. An employer is required by employment law to retain records for a period of three years.
Does an employer have to agree & comply with an inspection?
Yes. It is an employer’s responsibility to cooperate with the inspection process and to provide information and records in an appropriate format in order to assist the Inspector in making a determination on compliance.
Will the Inspector advise the employer as to the reason an inspection is taking place?
In general, the WRC does not provide details as to why a particular inspection is taking place for the following reasons:
• All inspections are carried out in the same manner irrespective of the reason for the inspection and the employer is presumed to be compliant unless evidence to the contrary is found.
• Not identifying a complaint/complainant protects them from potential victimisation.
• Not identifying the reason for the inspection protects the employer from vexatious victimisation accusations.
Are there any circumstances where the Inspector will advise the employer why the inspection is taking place?
In the following specific, limited circumstances, a WRC Inspector will inform an employer that there has been a complaint where:
There is a repeat inspection within six months of the first inspection as a result of a complaint received subsequent to the first inspection:
• A complainant’s name is not on any records
• An employee asks an Inspector to do so
• An inspection is on foot of a request to enforce the decision or determination of an employment rights body Inspectors’ Powers/Warrants Prior to the commencement of an inspection, the Inspector is required to identify themselves and produce their Warrant of Appointment to the employer or their representative and explain the nature and purpose of the visit/inspection together with the legislative basis upon which they are acting.
If you require advice, guidance or support, please contact the Adare Human Resource Management team at (01) 561 3594 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can help and support your Business under our Partnership Programme.