Employer penalties over work permits proposed


Employers of illegal employees and people working in Ireland without permits may soon face penalties as the Government today approved the drafting of new work-permit legislation.

The new Bill, if passed, will make it a "specific offence" for an employer to hire people without an employment permit. It will also make it an offence for a non-European Economic Area (EEA) national to work within the State without a permit.

The Government has yet to decide the penalties for such offences, and said it would seek advice from the Attorney General’s Office before finalising the Bill.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms Mary Harney, said the Bill would put Ireland’s work permit regime on a "modern statutory footing".

At the moment, employment permits in Ireland are issued under the 1935 Aliens Act.

Ms Harney said employing people without work permits put them in danger of exploitation. "There is a real danger that illegal employment could call into question the very liberal and flexible employment permit facilities now in operation," she said.

Ms Harney also said employers of illegal workers could also gain an unfair advantage over employers who comply with the employment law and said proposed legislation would allow appropriate monitoring of the employment permit system.