Written Answers. - Employment Agencies.

Denis Naughten

Question:

208 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has approved a scale of fees under the Employment Agency Act, 1971, to provide for the charging of fees to a person placed in employment by such an agency; the number of such agencies which have been approved to charge fees to employees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20351/00]

Denis Naughten

Question:

211 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of employment agencies which in the past 12 months have been found to be in breach of section 7 of the Employment Agency Act, 1971; the action taken by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20354/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 208 and 211 together.

Section 7 of the Employment Agency Act, 1971, provides than an employment agency shall not charge any fees or expenses in respect of services rendered in the course of the business, in excess of a scale approved by the Minister. The agency is also required to prepare and submit a scale of such fees to the Minister for approval.

Section 7 further provides that a person carrying on the business of an employment agency shall not charge any fee solely for agreeing to seek employment for another person or solely for agreeing to seek persons who will give or accept employment.

All employment agencies when applying for a licence must submit their scale of fees to the Minister for approval. Licences are only issued when this and other conditions of the 1971 Act and regulations thereunder are fulfilled to the full satisfaction of my Department. These conditions are designed, in the main, to ensure that only persons who are of good character are granted licences to carry on the business of an employment agency. As a consequence of the above procedures, no employment agency was found to be in breach of section 7 of the 1971 Act in the 12 months ending 30 September 2000.

The Deputy will wish to be aware that in 1999 a total of 447 licences were issued while, to 30 September 2000, 252 licences have been issued.

Denis Naughten

Question:

209 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people prosecuted in each of the past five years for failing to meet the requirements set in the Employment Agency Act, 1971; the number of staff employed by her Department to police this legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20352/00]

Denis Naughten

Question:

210 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of complaints lodged with her Department in the past 12 months under the Employment Agency Act, 1971; the subsequent investigations and results of any such investigations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20353/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 and 210 together.

Under the terms of the Employment Agency Act, 1971, a person shall not carry on the business of an employment agency except under, and in accordance with, a licence under that Act.

The primary instrument by which employment agency activity is monitored/regulated is the licensing scheme itself. Licences are issued to applicants only when they have fulfilled, to the full satisfaction of my Department, the relevant governing conditions as laid down by the 1971 Act and by regulations made there under.

These conditions are designed, in the main, to ensure that only persons who are of good character and who carry on employment agency business from premises which are suitable for that purpose are granted licences. In assessing applications, my Department operates a policy of strict adherence to all of the licensing criteria. Monitoring activity also involves the checking of daily newspapers to ensure that employment agencies which advertise are licensed in accordance with the Act.

There has been one prosecution of an employment agency for operating without a licence under the 1971 Act over the past five years. This prosecution took place earlier this year.

With regard to complaints, the Deputy will wish to know that during the past 12 months, my Department received a number of telephone complaints and inquiries regarding the operation of employment agencies. In all cases, the provisions of the 1971 Act were explained to complainants and it transpired that there was no breach of the Act involved in any of these cases. As a result, follow up action by my Department was not called for, and a record of the exact number of such complaints was not maintained.

I should add, however, that in the event of a complaint against a particular agency requiring further follow-up action the labour inspectors of my Department, of which there are 17, are empowered under the Act to investigate any such complaint. Such an investigation would normally result in a visit to the premises of the agency involved.

Question No. 210 with Question No. 209 and Question No. 211 with Question No. 208.