A Letterkenny-based businessman has been fined for hiring foreign nationals who did not possess the required work permits.
Two Bangladesh nationals, one of whom had been previously issued a deportation order in 2019, were discovered to be working illegally at Asian Foods in Ballyraine Industrial Estate in March, 2021.
The Workplace Relations Commission took a case against Asian Food Store and Catering Equipment Ltd, trading as Asian Foods.
The company was before Judge Éiteáin Cunningham at Letterkenny District Court on four charges, two contrary to the Minimum Wage Act and two contrary to the Organisation of Working Time Act.
Mr Tom Hayes, a Workplace Relations Inspector, told how he observed three people working in preparing goods and putting the goods in cages for dispatch on March 24, 2021.
Mr Hayes entered the premises, armed with a warrant, and spoke to the owner, Luthfur Rahman.
Two men spoken to by Mr Hayes identified themselves as being Bangladesh nationals. Both produced a Department of Social Protection ID, but said they had no permission to work.
The owner of the premises told the inspector that one of the men was a friend and the other was his brother-in-law.
Mr Hayes told the court that one man’s EU Treaty Rights application had been refused while the other man, who was in Ireland since 2014, was previously granted access to the labour market, but this had lapsed.
The court heard that the man’s claim for international protection was lost and a deportation order had been made in 2019.
Mr Rahman was asked for work time records and payslips for the two men, but he told the inspector that he could not provide any evidence of work time or pay.
Mr Hayes told the court that Mr Rahman was ‘quite co-operative’ with the investigation.
Solicitor Ms Donna Crampsie, representing Asian Foods, said her client would say that the men were only engaged in work on the premises ‘that very week’, but Mr Hayes said he could not agree as he had received information that they were on site for ‘considerable’ months.
Ms Crampsie said one of the men has now been regulated and has permission to work in the State.
State Solicitor Mr Kieran Dillon said the company was previously before the Court and convicted for offences under the Minimum Wages Act and the Working Time Act in 2021.
Ms Crampsie said her client was forced to ask for the men’s assistance as he had a shortage of his workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Crampsie told the court that Mr Rahman was ‘deeply remorseful’.
“He found employment law quite difficult and has now sought the assistance of outside entities to comply.
“He was quite overwhelmed with the responsibilities and he has taken a step back in the restructure of the company.”
Ms Crampsie said Mr Rahman wished to apologise to the court and sought the benefit of the Probation Act.
Judge Cunningham said she would not apply the Probation Act due to the previous convictions, which were dealt with prior to the commission of these offences.
On one of the summonses for each man, the company was fined €200 and given six months to pay. The company was also ordered to pay costs of €1,660. The other two charges were taken into account by Judge Cunningham.