Section 2 (2) states:-
“A person shall not employ a non-national in the State except in accordance with an employment permit”.
Section 3 then goes on to state that a person “who contravenes subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to:-
a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €3,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, or
b) if the offence is an offence consisting of a contravention of subsection (2), on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €250,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both”.
It is clear from the above section that the penalty for non compliance is very, very severe. Whereas it is a defence under section 4 of the Act for a person charged with an offence under subsection (3) to show that he/she took all steps as were reasonably open to him/her to ensure compliance with subsection (2), this can sometimes be difficult to prove and failure to comply can have dire consequences.
In this regard we recently dealt with an employer where the Guards had carried out a “dawn raid” on his premises. During that raid they arrested nine people for alleged breaches of the Work Permits legislation and subsequently arrested and charged the Director of the company for employing such persons. It is noteworthy that this seems to be a change in direction from the authorities of the State. Previously, NERA would have warned employers as to breaches and given them time to correct same.
If you require any help with any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us.