Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (75)

Seán Crowe

Question:

73 Mr. Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures which have been taken by the Government to ensure that migrant workers, particularly those working as domestics and in caring roles, are not exploited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8020/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

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. Work permits are not granted for sectors such as domestic employment where it is believed that such employment can be met from the Irish-EEA labour market.

In the area of pay and conditions, it is primarily the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 and the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 that apply to employees who are employed as domestics or in caring roles, whether such employees are nationals or non-nationals. The labour inspectorate of my Department is responsible for monitoring certain employment conditions for all categories of workers in Ireland, including immigrant workers. The inspectorate operates without any differentiation with regard to worker nationality as statutory employment rights and protections apply to emigrant workers in exactly the same manner as they do to native Irish 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(s) concerned and, if appropriate, a prosecution is initiated. In the pursuit of this remit the inspectors are empowered to enter premises, that is, the place of business usually, at all reasonable times and to demand access to the relevant records that employers are obliged to maintain. Such records, together with other substantiating evidence, for example, a statement from an employee, provide the essentials of a basis for legal proceedings.

It should be noted also that, in many cases, employment rights legislation has provisions whereby workers who believe that they have been denied their entitlements, or otherwise unfairly treated, can, as an alternative to dealing with the Labour Inspectorate, take the matter before a commissioner in the Rights Commissioner Service of the Labour Relations Commission.

Question No. 74 answered with QuestionNo. 39.