We are beginning to hear more about Workplace Relations Commission visits.
When a farm is selected for inspection, the farmer will usually receive written notification containing a proposed date and time for a visit, however in some instances an inspector may turn up unannounced.
What prompts inspection?
The reasons for an inspection range from routine visits to WRC having received a complaint alleging non-compliance with employment legislation. Some visits are triggered by WRC compliance campaigns focusing on specific sectors (e.g. Agriculture) or specific legislation (e.g. Work Permits).
What is the purpose of the inspection?
The purpose of the inspection is to check that the employer is complying with employment legislation. The inspector is therefore likely to examine employment contracts, terms and conditions of employment, annual leave records, timesheets, and various other employee records.
Where does the inspection take place?
As employers are required to hold employee records at their place of business, this will usually be the venue for the inspection. While an employer can request an alternative location if they have a good reason for doing so, it is crucial to contact the inspector in advance and advise him/her of that reason. Inspectors also need to be informed if the inspection will take place in a private residence as they do not enter private residences without the consent of the householder or a Court Warrant.
Preparing for the visit
If you receive notification of a proposed inspection, it will come with a template containing a number of questions to be completed in advance of the visit and available for inspection on the day. Details of other documentation which the inspector will seek to examine are available in WRC’s ‘Employer’s Guide to WRC Inspections’.
What to expect during the inspection
At the outset of the inspection, there will be an interview with the employer or his/her representative. The inspector will ask to examine the relevant documentation. While they can look for employment records going back 3 years, usually they focus on the previous year’s records only. Once the relevant records have been examined, a sample of employees will be interviewed to check the veracity of records and information provided during the inspection. The WRC can interview employees without the employer’s permission, however they usually request permission as a matter of courtesy. The employer can ask to have employee interviews conducted off site. A sample Employee Questionnaire is available on the WRC website.
Once the records have been examined and the employer and employee interviews have taken place, the inspector will hold a further interview with the employer to outline the findings. If minor breaches have been uncovered during the visit, the inspector will usually request that these are rectified and will follow up to ensure that issue/s have been corrected in line with legislation. Once everything is in order, a letter is issued to conclude the inspection. Where serious non-compliance and/or non-cooperation issues arise, the WRC may invoke sanctions.
EMPLOY E R ’ S C H E C K L I ST
Do I have the following items?
My employer’s registration number with the Revenue Commissioners
A list of all my employees: including full names, address and PPS numbers
Dates of commencement and, if relevant, dates of termination of employments
Written terms of employment for each of my employees
Employees’ job classification
A record of annual leave and Public Holidays taken by each employee
Hours of work for each employee (including start and finish times)
Payroll details including: gross to net, rate per hour, overtime, deductions,
commission, bonuses and service charges, etc.
Evidence that I provide employees with payslips
A register of any employees under 18 years of age
Details of any board and lodgings provided
Employment permits or evidence that permit is not required as appropriate for non EEA nationals
The completed template sent with the appointment letter or the same information available in a similar format.