WRC inspectors are appointed by the Director General. Their role is to carry out inspections to ensure employers are complying with employment and equality legislation.
Inspectors have the following powers;
- “to enter at all reasonable times any place of work or premises which he/she has reasonable grounds for believing is being used in connection with the employment of persons, or at which he/she believes documents relating to the employment of persons are kept,
- at such premises to inspect and take copies, of any books, documents or records
- to remove any such books, documents or records and retain them for such period as the inspector considers necessary for the purposes of his/her functions under the Workplace Relations Act 2015
- to require any person at the place of work or premises to give him/her such information or assistance as the inspector may reasonably require for the purpose of their functions under the Act,
- to require any person at the place of work or premises to produce such books, records or documents as the inspector may reasonably require for the purposes of their functions under the Act,
- to examine any person whom he/she believes to be or have been an employer or employee, and to require such person to answer such questions as the inspector may ask relating to the employment, and to make a declaration as to the truth of those answers.”
Any person who “obstructs or interferes with, or otherwise impedes, an inspector” in the course of implementing any of the above will be guilty of an offence.
The district court recently heard a case regarding a restaurant owner obstructing an inspection of employment records. This case highlighted the rights of WRC inspectors and the risks employers are exposed too for obstructing the process of inspection.
The restaurant facing charges of obstruction was Tropica M & J Limited. An unannounced compliance inspection regarding illegal foreign national workers was being carried out.
Other checks such as compliance with annual leave payments and the minimum wage were also due to be inspected. On arrival at the premises, the WRC inspector requested to speak with employees, however, was denied access. Revenue officials and members of An Garda Síochána were present on site also.
When the WRC inspector tried to enter the kitchen the restaurant owner blocked him, the inspector told the court the owner pushed him and put his hands on him to prevent him from entering.
When the Director was cautioned by the WRC inspector, he responded to say “I don’t care” and became abusive and aggressive towards the inspector. The WRC Inspector told the Court that he feared he was going to be punched or head-butted and that he felt unsafe.
After some time, a female produced paperwork of staff on the premises but the inspector was not allowed to speak with them. The inspector was not carried out in line with normal procedures due to the owner’s obstruction.
The restaurant owner avoided a jail sentence, however, the court fined him €10,000 for failing to comply and obstructing the inspection.
If you have any questions in relation to WRC inspections, please contact our advice line on 1890 253 369