May 9, 2023
Over €20m in wages withheld from workers since 2011 – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Louise O’Reilly TD today called for additional staff and resources to be provided to the Commission to tackle breaches of employment law.

The call comes following the publication of the Workplace Relations Commission annual report which showed that WRC inspectors recovered €1.4m for workers in unpaid wages, a 45 per cent increase on last year.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Despite being underfunded and under-resourced, the WRC does fantastic work on behalf of workers across this state.

“In spite of the challenges faced by underfunding and an expanded workforce to support, the WRC carried out 5,820 inspections in 2022 and from these, 5,700 specific contraventions of legislation were detected.

“One of the standout results of these investigations was the recovery of €1.4 million in withheld, or stolen, wages from workers.

“Indeed, a broader analysis of WRC annual reports and Parliamentary Question data from the Department of Enterprise reveals that since 2011 over €20 million in withheld wages were returned to workers following WRC investigations.

“This data in the WRC annual report lifts the lid on a rampant and disgusting practice. Any employer who deliberately withholds wages from a worker, or deliberately under pays a worker, should be named, shamed, and punished.

“Unfortunately, this practice has been rampant across workplaces for decades, and it begs the question if the punishment for such breaches of employment law is fit for practice.

“The withholding of wages is particularly rampant in sectors where women and migrant workers are highly employed – the food and drink and retail sectors.

“Given the WRC is understaffed and underfunded, it is a logical assumption that with more resources to conduct investigations the figure for withheld wages would be much higher.

“The only way to combat this unscrupulous practice is to empower and fund the WRC to carry out a greater number of investigations across the whole economy.”

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