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Written Answers. - Protection of Young Persons.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 155. Mr. Dennehy Information on John Dennehy Zoom on John Dennehy  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney  if she has satisfied herself that there are sufficient inspectors to enforce the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996; and if she has satisfied herself that sufficient measures are in place to discourage young people from excessive part-time work during the school week. [24767/02]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Fahey): Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey In conjunction with the introduction of a national minimum wage in 2000, the Government authorised an increase in the labour inspectorate to 17 inspectors which equated to almost a 100% increase in personnel. While the actual number of serving inspectors has fluctuated in the interim the inspectorate is now operating to full strength.

Inspectors carry out night-time work as part of their normal conditions of service and that element of their duties is almost exclusively related to the work of the enforcement of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996. Targeted inspections by way of out of normal office hours inspection activity, throughout various employment sectors, including fast food outlets, restaurants, licensed premises and hotels are a regular feature of the work of the inspectorate.

During the years 2000 to date some 1,235 night-time inspections were undertaken while there were 3,421 day-time inspections during the same period. In addition, the employment rights information unit of my Department concluded a proactive awareness campaign earlier this year whereby all secondary schools were circulated with information on all aspects of employment law, including details of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996. Staff of that unit also visit secondary schools, citizen information centres and other organisations to disseminate information on general labour law, including the protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996.

Accordingly, I am satisfied that there is sufficient targeting of the conditions of employment of young persons so as to act as a deterrent to [1027] their excessive working during the school week. However, if there is evidence that particular employers are breaking the requirements of the Act, I would ask that these be brought to the attention of the labour inspectorate for investigation and further action.

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