National Audit Office

January 2024

Performance Audit on the Operations of Jobsplus’ Law Compliance Unit

Press Release

Auditor General Mr. Charles Deguara today presented the performance audit report in caption to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Dr Anglu Farrugia. This audit reviews the operations of Jobsplus’ Law Compliance Unit (LCU) which is entrusted with the detection and deterrence of irregular employment. In general, this review noted that the overall performance of this Unit’s inspectors was satisfactory. Notwithstanding, the NAO identified areas in which LCU’s effectiveness can be further improved.

Jobsplus’ Senior Management could not support its claims with robust technical studies that the number of its on-the-ground inspectors is sufficient. While commending Jobsplus in its vision to strengthen the desk investigation element, this Office firmly believes that some cases of irregular employment can only be detected through on-the-ground inspections. Despite acknowledging that such inspections are laborious and may, in instances, yield limited success for the effort employed, NAO still considers this function as central to LCU’s operations. While urging the LCU to develop ways by which this could be carried out more cost-effectively, NAO also believes that this function needs to be bolstered.

This Office further observed that the above issue needs also to consider the operational hours covered by the Unit as currently, inspections are mostly carried out during normal office hours, which situation creates gaps in this enforcement function which could be easily identified and exploited by potential defaulters. While the overall performance of the Unit’s inspectors is considered satisfactory, NAO was concerned that this complement is resisting change in its work practices which are evidently required for LCU to broaden and increase its inspectorate presence.

This review also showed that the LCU does not document the weekly inspection candidate selection process. Apart from resulting in a lack of audit trail in this part of the Unit’s operations, this also means that verification of the extent to which the internal guidelines relating to the selection of inspection candidates have been followed was rendered impossible.

NAO also observed that LCU’s current legislative framework needs revising. While recognising an increase in applicable penalties, this Office however noted that the Unit did not endeavour to assess whether these can be considered to be set at a sufficient level for effective deterrence. Moreover, this review showed that the LCU is granting an additional rectification period to identified defaulters for certain infringements. Such a lenient approach, this Office observed, may passively elicit an overall lax attitude towards compliance with employment regulations from those employers who are so inclined, proving unfair towards those abiding with this legislation.

Throughout this review, NAO also noted that the IT tools at LCU’s disposal do feature some limitations and while Jobsplus management noted that workaround solutions exist for these, it also highlighted that upgrades to the current system are in progress which would significantly enhance Jobsplus’ inspectorate function, making it an even more effective enforcer and, by implication, deterrent against irregular employment.

These issues, along with others, are comprehensively presented in the audit report together with this Office’s recommendations.

To view report (.PDF) please follow link.

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