Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (87)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

88 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the legal basis for the requirement that an applicant for a licence to operate an employment agency obtain Garda clearance; the reason this requirement relates only to the applicant and not to the other directors of a limited company; if she has satisfied herself that the current system is sufficient to ensure adequate standards in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8242/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

The legal basis for the requirement that Garda clearance be obtained in respect of an applicant for an employment agency licence is Regulation 8 of the Employment Agency Regulations 1972 — S.I. No. 255 of 1972 — as substituted by Regulation 3 of the Employment Agency Regulations 1978 — S.I. No. 288 of 1978 — which requires, inter alia, that an applicant for an employment agency licence shall, in the opinion of the Minister, “be a person of good character and repute.”

The rationale for seeking this clearance in respect of an applicant for an employment agency licence — rather than in respect of a director of the company in question — is that the applicant is, most usually, the person operating the agency. However, where directors apply for employment agency licences Garda clearance is sought in those circumstances in respect of such directors. Garda clearance is obtained with the consent of the applicant in accordance with the provisions of section 8 of the Data Protection Act 1988.

In addition, an applicant for a licence must supply two independent references as to his or her character. I am satisfied that the current vetting procedure carried out by the Garda Síochána and the practice of obtaining two independent references ensures adequate standards in this area.

The Employment Agency Act 1971 currently regulates the activities of employment agencies and is the subject of a review under a commitment made by the Government under the current social partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress.

A discussion document addressing the various options that might be considered for the regulation of employment agencies and their recruitment and placement activities in this country is at present being finalised by my Department. The discussion document will be circulated shortly to all interested parties for their views, to be followed by meetings aimed at seeking a consensus on the most appropriate approach to adopt.