Mixed teams of inspectors, Cyprus
The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance has introduced several measures to combat undeclared and illegal employment in Cyprus. Among these measures are the expansion of the role of the mixed teams of inspectors who identify cases of undeclared employment, to include the application of the Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation Law of 2004 in order to ensure that all employees are treated equally.
Since 2008, the rapid growth of undeclared and illegal employment, mainly in the hotel and construction industries, has been at the centre of the public debate. Restriction of the phenomenon has thus been among the immediate priorities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (CY0901039I). Preliminary actions for the implementation of measures against this worrying phenomenon were initiated in 2007 with the establishment of a special tripartite technical committee set up for this purpose. In this context, one of the key measures to tackle undeclared and illegal employment has been the establishment and operation of mixed teams of inspectors.
The mixed teams of inspectors, which were set up in April 2009, aim at fighting undeclared and illegal employment by implementing inspections in workplaces. Currently, four teams are operating in the districts of Nicosia, Larnaca/Famagusta, Limassol and Paphos. Their role has recently been expanded and now includes the application of the Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation Law of 2004 in order to ensure that all employees are treated equally, without any direct or indirect discrimination by their employer as regards wages and other benefits.
Inspections focus on the construction and hotel industry due to the high concentration of foreign workers in these sectors. In most cases, inspections are carried out after complaints to a special toll-free phone number provided by the Department of Labour Relations.
Each team consists of three public servants/inspectors, who belong to three different departments of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance:
− the Department of Labour Relations, which is in charge of the overall coordination of inspection teams;
− the Department of Labour;
− the Social Insurances Services.
Outcome of evaluations; lessons and conclusions
Achievement of objectives
From April 2009 to May 2012, approximately 7,500 inspections were carried out, 4,300 of which were in the construction industry.
Obstacles and problems
Lack of sufficient staff and a heavy workload in the departments implementing the inspections have been mentioned.
Mixed teams of inspectors are operating in all districts of the country. Although these teams focus on the construction and hotel industries, inspections are being implemented in all sectors.
Department of Labour Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dlr/dlr.nsf/index_en/index_en?OpenDocument
Yannis Eustathopoulos, INEK-PEO