Applegreen gets Probation Act over undocumented staff

Petrol station chain accepted it employed six staff without work permits

The Applegreen service station chain has been spared convictions and up to €24,000 in fines for employing six staff members without valid permits to work in the State.

Petrogas Group Ltd, trading as Applegreen, pleaded guilty to six offences under the Employment Permits Act concerning employees who were not entitled to work in the State.

Dublin District Court heard that, in March 2019, a Workplace Relations Commission inspector checked employment records at the firm's head office. Out of its 2,700 staff, 129 were not European Union nationals, and six did not have a permit to work in Ireland.

It was accepted the firm co-operated and provided all its records for inspection.

Judge Anthony Halpin noted that most of the six employees had previously been allowed to work in Ireland. However, their permits had expired – by more than three years in two instances.

The firm had no prior convictions and the defence submitted that it had changed its procedures. The court heard that managers of its 124 outlets had undergone further training to ensure workers had current documentation.

Prosecution solicitor Edel Muldowney said the offence could result in a fine of €€,000 per offence along with the costs of the case.

The judge noted that Applegreen had taken the case seriously and the evidence of its head of HR, who outlined the changes introduced following the inspection. He accepted the offence resulted from a systems error that has been corrected.

The judge applied the Probation of Offenders Act on Monday. He noted the firm had complied with his order four weeks ago to pay €1,000 towards prosecution costs and the same amount to the Little Flower Penny Dinner Charity, which helps underprivileged people in the Liberties in Dublin.