Date Released: 24 April 2013
The Minister for Education and Skills is introducing random audits on school and Department of Education funded third level building projects, in a proactive move to verify pay and conditions compliance on such sites.
All public works contracts include a clause specifying the payment of the appropriate Registered Employment Agreement (REA) rates of Pay and Conditions of Employment (including pensions).
Minister Ruairí Quinn T.D. is keen to ensure that building contractors operating legitimately are protected while those who seek to avoid their obligations under the terms of the public works contracts will be reported to the statutory agency on employment rights legislation, NERA, and penalised where appropriate.
“The vast majority of building contractors are compliant with their obligations in terms of pay and conditions of their workers. However, given the large sums of public money involved in the capital spend of the Education sector, I want to be proactive and verify that every worker on site is receiving the pay and conditions they are due.”
Following a tender process, the Department of Education & Skills has appointed Contractors Administration Services (CAS) to conduct random audits on school building projects to verify compliance with the relevant Pay and Conditions clauses in the Public Works Contracts.
In addition to random audits, CAS will be requested to carry out detailed audits of employment records on a number of projects.
A €2 billion five year capital investment programme is currently underway in the Department of Education which will see the construction of 275 new major school building projects. In addition, more than €125 million has been allocated for projects in the Higher Education sector.
The main contractor’s obligations in terms of pay and conditions of employment apply to not only its own employees but also to all other construction employees on site. It also extends to ensuring that employees of subcontractors engaged by the main contractor are paid in compliance with the terms of Pay and Conditions of Employment under the Contract.
Should irregularities be uncovered in terms of non-compliance with REA, Inspection and Enforcement falls under the remit of NERA. The Department will liaise with NERA on the progress of the random audits by CAS and will report any discrepancies found to it.
Should an audit uncover any other matters of concern regarding tax compliance or social welfare fraud, such matters will be referred to either the Revenue Commissioners and/or the Department of Social Protection as appropriate.