A bill providing for the creation of a new inspection service at the labour ministry aimed at clamping down on undeclared employment and other irregularities, has been tabled to the House labour committee for discussion, an official said on Wednesday.
According to a source at the labour ministry, the new inspection service will be tasked with making sure that there are no violations of the almost 30 laws relating to employment matters, and will issue fines in cases they find irregularities.
The move is expected to upgrade the ministry’s inspection work and making it more effective, as, at the moment, each labour ministry department is tasked with inspecting businesses to see if the provisions of one or some of the laws in question are not violated.
This means that currently several ministry officials have to visit a business on different occasions, one to inspect for undeclared workers, another to see if there are no violations as to the working hours of a staff or other labour issues, and so forth.
The inspection service will have extended powers and will work under the minister of labour to carry out targeted inspections on the basis of risk analysis. It will also be equipped with modern software that will make the monitoring of businesses easier.
According to the bill, the inspectors will have the right to enter the premises of any business without prior notice.
The new inspection service is part of a number of measures Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou announced earlier in the month aimed at clamping down on undeclared work, which, she said, is estimated at 15.4 per cent of the labour market. She admitted however, that this percentage was probably not representative of the problem that actually exists in Cyprus.
Some two weeks ago, new legislation came into force which provides for heavy fines on employers starting at €500 for each undeclared worker, which will be backdated on the presumption they have been working for six months, bringing the total to €3,500, or €500 for each previous month. The new law does not cover domestic workers.
There is a limit to the maximum fine of up to €10,000 for those employing up to 10 illegal workers. If the fine is paid within 30 days, it is reduced by 30 per cent, but if it is not paid in time, it increases by €50 for each delayed day.
The legislation also provides the temporary suspension of the operation of a business or a part of it for a maximum of 48 hours when a new administrative fine is imposed.
Emilianidou said the competent body for the enforcement of the suspension will be a three-member commission, chaired by the Director of the social insurance department.