The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) was first established on an interim basis in February 2007 with the aim of securing compliance with Irish Employment Legislation. NERA monitors employment conditions through its inspectors. It enforces compliance and seeks redress where any employment rights have been breached.
Since its establishment in 2007, the number of NERA inspectors has increased by more than 100%. These inspectors exchange information with the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners.
Inspectors are empowered to enter company premises and interview employees as well as employers. They can also examine employment records and can take statements before initiating legal proceedings.
Typically, a NERA investigation proceeds in the following way:
1) If the initial inspection finds Employment Legislation breaches the employer is instructed to take the appropriate steps to rectify the matter.
2) NERA sends a letter to request evidence that the employer is now compliant.
3) If the response is inadequate, the company is warned that any further breaches will be sent to NERA’s legal services for prosecution. Then a follow-up inspection occurs.
*It is extremely important for employers to note that if there is a breach of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996, the employer is referred for prosecution directly after the first inspection.
Employers should know that employees regularly complain to NERA about their employer’s adherence to Employment Legislation and their maintenance of employment records and so on.
In order to pass a NERA inspection and to comply with Employment Legislation, employers are statutorily obliged to maintain a large number of records relating to their employees.
Here is a list of the 10 most important records/details that an employer in Ireland must keep:
- PPS Number, Name and Address of each employee
- Terms of Employment for every employee
- Individual job classifications for each employee
- Commencement/termination dates
- Payroll details
- Copies of payslips
- Hours of Work
- Under 18 employee register (if applicable)
- Public Holiday/Annual Leave entitlements received by each employee
- Board/Lodging details if applicable
NERA inspectors are entitled to see all of these records, and more where relevant, during an inspection.
In the 6 month period between January and June 2013, NERA conducted 2,755 workplace inspections. A staggering 1,458 (53%) of these inspections were unannounced!