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Recently, a client notified us that they have been contacted by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) about an upcoming inspection and required advice. Below we discuss what to expect and what to have prepared for an inspection.

How does a business get picked for a WRC inspection?

WRC inspections can be conducted for any of the following reasons:

  • In response to complaints (usually by disgruntled employees) received of alleged noncompliance with relevant employment rights legislation
  • Routine inspections
  • As part of the WRC’s compliance campaigns which focus on compliance in a specific sector or a specific piece of legislation

What is the notice period before the WRC inspection?

In general, employers will receive advance notice of an inspection with an appointment letter, giving a proposed date and time for the inspection. If the employer has a valid reason as to why the inspection cannot be carried out at the appointed time, the employer should contact the Inspector as soon as possible to arrange an alternative date and time. In some cases, the inspector may also call unannounced.

What does an inspection entail?

The inspection will be conducted by a WRC inspection officer. WRC investigations involve examining payslips, timesheets, and all documents related to employment, and in some cases, conducting interviews with current and former employees

During the inspection, the inspectors have the authority to:

  • Enter the workplace at any reasonable times
  • Inspect and take copies, of any books, documents, or records
  • Remove any documents or records and retain them for a time period considered necessary to inspect
  • Require any employee/employee at the place of work to provide information and provide as much assistance during the inspection
  • Require any employee/employer to produce books, records, or documents as the inspector may reasonably require

What are the potential outcomes of the inspection?

The outcome of a WRC inspection varies on the individual business situation.

If an initial inspection of records finds that an employer has breached employment law, the Inspection Services can:

  • Issue a letter asking the employer to correct this
  • Refer the matter to legal services for prosecution
  • Carry out a further inspection

In the case of unpaid wages due to an employee, a letter is then sent requesting evidence that the employer is complying with the law. If there is no response or an inadequate response to this letter, the Inspection Services will make a second inspection. A warning will be issued to the employer that any further or new breaches discovered will be sent to legal services to prosecute. The WRC can use fixed payment notices for certain offences. Inspectors may issue fixed payment notices for amounts up to €2,000 where they have reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed a relevant offence.

How to prepare for a WRC inspection?

The best preparation for a WRC inspection is to have all employment records and documents up to date and aligned with the current legislation at the time of inspection. Typically, inspectors will ask for employee records dating back 12 months from a certain date.