Letter could save couple €2,500 over 43c error

A businesswoman and her husband fined a total of €2,520 for paying a staff member 45c an hour below the minimum wage were told this week (March 3 ) the prosecution would be “reviewed” if they could provide the court with a letter from their former accountant accepting her error as asserted.

Last month Imelda Geraghty and Eric Dilworth of Ard na Rí, Clonmacmoise, Co Offaly who ran the Beehive hair salon and Sofia’s Restaurant in the Left Bank Mall until recently were fined in their absence after the prosecution was successfully brought by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation.

“If they had turned up in court it would’ve been much better for them,’ said Judge Seamus Hughes on February 13.

However, contesting the ruling in the District Court this week, Ms Geraghty contended they would’ve turned up if they had got the summons, but explained how she and her family had moved temporarily to Dublin six months ago to be closer to her husband who was being treated for a heart attack, and had not seen the letter.

At the previous hearing the court heard how a Department inspector discovered how Ms Geraghty’s salon had underpaid an 18-year-old staff member a total of €494.72 over a number of months between July and October 2011 by paying €6.49 instead of €6.92 an hour, but that this had already been repaid.

“The inspector was told to get a real job,” said prosecutor Peter D Jones.

In court this week, however Ms Geraghty contended the error was a genuine mistake by her then accountant, who is no longer retained, and that there should not be a prosecution against her husband as he had no part of the salon, apart from being a non-active director for company registration purposes.

Showing some sympathy, Judge Hughes indicated the prosecution against her husband would be struck out before turning to Mr Jones.

“This prosecution is over 43c [a hour] on the minimum wage, which this woman has rectified,” said the judge.

“I know this is hanging over your husband’s head out in the public until this is finalised,” he added.

Mr Jones accepted this and told the court that if the error was confirmed to him in writing from the former accountant: “I’ll review my position”.

Judge Hughes adjourned finalising proceedings until May 22 to allow this be done.

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