Dáil Éireann - Volume 598 - 24 February, 2005

Written Answers. - Departmental Staff.

  52. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has plans to employ more labour inspectors and to give labour inspectors greater powers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6224/05]

  64. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason for the major reduction in the number of inspections carried out by the labour inspectorate; the number of prosecutions initiated by the inspectorate during 2004 and the way in which this compares with 2003; if he intends to provide additional staff or resources for the inspectorate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6169/05]

  Mr. Killeen:I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 64 together.

The numbers of workplace inspections-visits undertaken by the labour inspectorate in 2003 was 7,168. The number of workplace inspections-[937] visits undertaken was 5,160 in 2004 while 20 prosecutions initiated by the labour inspectorate in 2003. The labour inspectorate initiated 14 prosecutions. The reduced number of labour inspectorate workplace inspections-visits during 2004 relates to two factors. First, the successful Irish Presidency of the EU in the first half of the year placed significant demands on the labour inspectorate staff. Second, the mid-term review of Sustaining Progress provided that a review be carried out on the mandate and resourcing of the labour inspectorate.

The review was carried out by the staff of the labour inspectorate in the second half of 2004. As agreed in the mid-term review of Sustaining Progress, four additional inspectors were appointed earlier this year. This has increased the complement of inspectors to 21. The Review of the Mandate and Resourcing of the Labour Inspectorate contains a wide-ranging analysis of the various options regarding the powers of the inspectorate and the number of inspectors required in the future. The report is being considered by the social partners.

Employment rights legislation has provisions whereby workers who believe that 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.