The Enforcer - Coming Soon To A Workplace NERA You

Author:Mr John Doyle
Profession:Dillon Eustace
 
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In March of this year the Government, as part of its

commitment in Towards 2016, introduced The Employment Law

Compliance Bill 2008 ("the Bill"). The purpose of

this article is to set out briefly the most important

provisions of the Bill. It is possible that the Act which is

ultimately passed may differ from the Bill but for the purposes

of this article it is assumed that the Bill will be enacted in

its entirety.

The Bill has very far-reaching consequences for employers

and employers have been alarmed at the increased possibility of

individuals and companies facing criminal prosecution resulting

in heavy penalties, costs and publicity.

The first purpose of the Bill is to establish the National

Employment Rights Authority ("NERA") whose objective

will be to promote, encourage and secure compliance with

employment legislation by means of the appointment of

authorised officers and increased penalties for breaches of

employment legislation.

The Director of NERA will be responsible for the enforcement

of almost all employment legislation through the inspection and

examination of employment records and the carrying out of

investigations and the prosecution of offences. In addition,

NERA will have a role in promoting awareness amongst both

employers and employees of their rights and obligations under

employment legislation.

The Director will have power to enter into co-operation

agreements with official agencies including the Garda Siochana,

the Revenue Commissioners, the Director of Corporate

Enforcement, the Health and Safety Authority, the Competition

Authority and the Pensions Board as well as employment law

enforcement agencies of other countries. This will include the

exchange of information which may be required and the

co-ordination of any actions which may be contemplated by NERA

and any other official agency.

The Director will also have power to introduce codes of

practice aimed at providing practical guidance to

employers.

NERA will be able to acquire, use and disclose to various

bodies an employee's PPS number, an employer's

registration number, the particulars of a valid passport or an

employee's identification number under immigration

legislation.

Official agencies will be able to disclose information to

NERA which may relate to the commission of an offence under

employment legislation and in turn NERA may disclose

information to the Garda Siochana, the Revenue Commissioners,

the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Health and Safety

Authority, the...

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