Preparing for a NERA Audit (National Employment Rights Authority)

Who are NERA?

The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) was set up on a non-statutory basis in 2007. Under the Workplace Relations Reform Programme announced by Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in July, 2011.
In general Inspectors/Authorised Officers have the following powers under the above legislation:

  • To enter any premises at a reasonable time
  • To demand sight of records
  • To inspect records
  • To take copies of records
  • To interview and require information from any relevant person

So employers find themselves in a situation where NERA have dropped in unexpectedly, given you notice of inspection and told you they would be back in 2 weeks and in some cases it is an immediate inspection, to audit all your employee documentation!

NERA usually will have given you a list of a possible documentation they will want to audit/inspect, where do you start or even turn for help in this situation?

Some of this documentation they will wish to inspect/audit:

  • Employer registration number with the Revenue Commissioners
  • Full Name, Address and PPS Number for each employee (full-time and part-time)
  • Employees job classification
  • Terms of employment for each employee
  • Dates of commencement and where relevant termination
  • Copies of payslips
  • Hours of work for each employee (including starting and finishing times, meal breaks and rest periods). These may be in the form of Form OTW1 (or in a form substantially to like effect).
  • Holidays received/paid and recorded
  • Payment for Bank Holidays
  • Records of any employees under the age of 18 years
  • Records for those employees needing work permits
  • Any documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance with employment rights legislation

Joint Investigations/Audits

The National Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016 provides for greater co-ordination between organisations concerned with employment rights compliance.

In particular it provides that NERA Inspectors will join with the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners to work together in Joint Investigation Units (JIUs). The role of the JIUs is to address areas where evidence suggests that non-compliance exists.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Act, 2007, which came into operation on 30th March, 2007 provides for the exchange of relevant employment data between the Revenue Commissioners, the Minister for Social Protection and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

So really if you are found in breach of any of the employment laws you could be reported to the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection. This connection with other Government Department increases the chances of prosecution.

What are employers to do to reduce the risk of prosecution?

  • Make sure you have Terms of Employment for all employees including past employees on record. With the employers address and that of the employee.
  • You should have payslips that include your employers number and the PPS number of all employees including past employees.
  • Payslips should also record holidays and Bank Holiday payments. These should be clearly marked on each payslip.
  • Every employer should have records of start /finishing times and meal breaks. This is usually recorded on a time and attendance system, but daily sign in and out sheets with recorded meal breaks can be sufficient, as long as each employee has signed of on these.
  • Rosters with employees start and finishing times, with any employee under the age of 18 clearly highlighted.
    Clear records of any employee under the age of 18 has received his/her full allocation of entitled breaks/rest time.
  • To make available work permits for those employees who require them.

Athrú Solutions have help 100's of employers gather this information when NERA has come knocking at their door. Small employers usually panic thinking that they have none of the information required, but Athrú Solutions can help compile the information needed from various sources where employers didn't think of looking!

Call us today on 01-8900326 or Contact Us to arrange a consultation.