Workplace Relations Commission Inspectors are appointed by the Director General, with the consent of the Minister, and they exercise such powers as are conferred upon them by the Workplace Relations Act 2015.
Inspectors visit places of employment and carry out investigations on behalf of the Commission in order to ensure compliance with equality and employment-related legislation. In certain circumstances, the Labour Court may request that an inspector carry out investigations on its behalf. Such investigations involve, but are not confined to, examining books, records and documents related to the employment, and conducting interviews with current and former employees and employers.
In general, Inspectors have the following powers:
- to enter at all reasonable times any place or 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.
An Inspector may on occasion be accompanied by other Inspectors from the WRC, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Revenue Commissioners or by members of An Garda Síochána.
Any person who obstructs or interferes with, or otherwise impedes, an inspector or member of An Garda Síochána in the course of exercising a power conferred on him/her by the Act will be guilty of an offence. Similarly, a person who fails or refuses to comply with a request or requirement of, or who fails to answer questions asked by, the inspector or a member of An Garda Síochána, or who provides false or misleading information to him/her will be guilty of an offence.
Where breaches of legislation have been found, an Inspector may, depending on the section of legislation involved, issue either a Compliance Notice or a Fixed Payment Notice to an employer. Other breaches of employment law are classed as offences and may result in a criminal prosecution. Further information on each of these Notices is available on the links below.