Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Questions (100)

Niall Collins

Question:

179 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of EPACE; if it is a State agency or otherwise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1741/09]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

The company to which the Deputy refers (EPACE) is a private company, limited by guarantee and established under the aegis of the National Joint Industrial Council for the Electrical Contracting Industry. Its main objective is to advise Electrical Contractors of their responsibilities under the Registered Employment Agreement (REA) for the Electrical Industry and it also carries out inspections of Electrical Contractors in order to ensure compliance with the agreement. While the organisation does not have statutory authority under employment rights legislation to undertake such inspections, Electrical Contractors have in the past been in general willing to facilitate, and cooperate with, these arrangements.

The registration of employment agreements, such as the Electrical Contracting Industry REA, is a matter for the Labour Court, as provided for in the Industrial Relations Act 1946. Enforcement of the provisions of the REA for the Electrical Sector is effected through the Labour Court under the Industrial Relations legislation. While National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) does not have a formal relationship with EPACE, it does investigate complaints referred to it by any person and, in so doing, it may also examine information furnished by EPACE in relation to alleged breaches of the REA for the Electrical Contracting Sector.

Section 45 of the Employment Law Compliance Bill as published last year is intended to support and enhance monitoring and inspection activity in relation to compliance with the Registered Employment Agreement in the electrical contracting industry. The Bill is expected to reach Second Stage early in this Dáil term. In the meantime current arrangements continue to apply.