Dáil Éireann - Volume 598 - 24 February, 2005
Written Answers. - Employment Rights.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
19. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the recent report from a centre (details supplied) which found that foreign women employed as domestic workers were being subjected to widespread mistreatment and exploitation; if he intends to introduce additional measures to ensure that such vulnerable workers are not exploited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6155/05]
Mr. Killeen Mr. Killeen
Mr. Killeen:I can confirm that the report referred to in the question has been brought to my attention.
The labour inspectorate of my Department 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 native Irish workers.
In the area of pay and conditions, it is primarily the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 and the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 that apply to employees who are employed in domestic service.
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 on behalf of the employer to maintain adequate records is an offence.
It should be noted also that in many cases employment rights legislation has provisions whereby workers who believe they have been denied their entitlements, or otherwise unfairly treated, can, as an alternative to dealing with the labour inspectorate, take the matter before a commissioner in the rights commissioner service of the Labour Relations Commission.
In this regard, I urge anyone who has evidence of the mistreatment of workers to furnish all the relevant details and any related materials to the inspectorate with a view to pursuing the matter.
Where employers seek work permits in order to employ non-EEA nationals, the Department requires a statement of the main functions of the job, salary-wages, deductions, other than statutory, other benefits and hours to be worked per week. Both the proposed employer and the proposed employee must sign this statement. Work permits are not granted unless there is evidence of the intent to comply with minimum wages legislation. Applications for renewals require confirmation that the stated wages have been paid; P60 and other sources are used. New work permits are not granted for sectors such as domestic employment where it is believed that such employment can be met from the Irish-EEA labour market and where there is a greater risk of exploitation; the granting of new work permits for this category of worker ceased in early 2004.
Dáil Éireann 598 Written Answers. Employment Rights.