Tuesday, 4 April 2006
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Question 301: To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has been in contact with the governments of those countries whose citizens are working in Ireland below the recommended levels of pay, as reported here in the media; the nature and outcome of those discussions; if he will ensure there will be no exploitation here of migrant workers from these countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13167/06]
The labour inspectorate of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment 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 immigrant workers in exactly the same manner as they do to other Irish workers. For the avoidance of doubt section 20 of the Protection of Employee's (Part-Time) Work Act 2001 provides that all employee protection legislation on the Statute Book in Ireland applies to workers posted to work in Ireland in line with Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 16 December 1996.
Section 20 of the 2001 Act also provides that all employee protection legislation applies to a person, irrespective of his or her nationality or place of residence, who has entered into a contract of employment that provides for his or her being employed in the State or who works in the State under a contract of employment. Thus all employment rights legislation applies to migrant workers engaged to work in Ireland under a contract of employment. The employment rights compliance section of the Department, which includes the labour inspectorate, applies the same principles in the discharge of its functions and, accordingly, makes no distinction as between Irish and migrant workers when undertaking compliance checking or investigating complaints. Where possible, the inspectorate will investigate any specific matters brought to its attention once they fall within its powers and remit.
In that regard 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. Employers are required to maintain records in respect of such employees and these records, together with other substantiating evidence, for example, a statement from an employee, provide the essentials of a basis for legal proceedings. Failure to maintain adequate records by an employer is an offence.
In the course of investigating matters brought to its attention it is not a normal feature of the inspectorate's approach to initiate contacts with the governments of other states. Where the specific circumstances of a case might suggest that the assistance of an embassy could be useful the inspectorate would make such inquiries. For its part the Government is always ready to listen to the concerns of any state regarding the treatment of its citizens in Ireland.