Random audits to verify pay and conditions on building projects in the education sector to be introduced by Minister for Education & Skills

24th April, 2013

The Minister for Education & 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,” said Minister
Quinn.

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.