Horse trainer fined €4,000 for failure to pay bonuses to staff

horse trainer

Declan Queally, a horse trainer in Ireland, was fined €4,000 (£3449.24) following an inspection of his stable yard and business, which found he had failed to pay necessary bonuses to staff under the Stable Employee Bonus Scheme.

The scheme, which came into force in May 2000, is financed by a 3% deduction from all prize money, which is distributed to all registered employees. The scheme is paid quarterly, with funds to be paid out to all staff in employment at the end of the relevant quarter. The amount paid to each employee is based on a written agreement with all staff, lodged with the Irish Horeracing Regulatory Board (IHRB).

A referrals committee for the IHRB was called to inspect Queally’s premises on 5 May 2021, following an anonymous complaint regarding his compliance with the bonus scheme.

According to evidence heard before the committee, Queally was unable to comply with requests for records of the bonus scheme payments made at the time, and admitted that certain individuals had not received payments, despite his earlier reporting to the IHRB that they had.

Queally was also unable to provide a copy of the annual agreement between trainer and employees, which the regulatory body requires is displayed in the staff working area.

The horse trainer accepted that he had provided misleading information to the IHRB regarding the bonus scheme, and that the funds had not been distributed in accordance with the agreement. He argued that these errors were unintentional, stemming from a lack of understanding of the scheme.

At the time in question, Queally did not employ any full-time staff, and he claimed it was his understanding that only full-time employees were eligible for the scheme. Nevertheless, the returns made to the IHRB claimed some payments had been made to staff who did not, in reality, receive the funds.

The referrals committee found that Queally had supplied misleading information to a regulatory official, in addition to failing to distribute money deducted for the benefit of stable employees, and failing to display a copy of the employment agreement.

In addition to the fine, the committee imposed a six month withdrawal of Queally’s licence to train, but suspended that withdrawal for a period of 12 months subject to the IHRB’s satisfaction that he was in full compliance with the bonus scheme agreement.

The judgement stated: “Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee found Mr Queally[…]acted in a manner which was prejiducal to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing.”

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Cliodhna Guy, head of licensing, legal and compliance at the IHRB, said: “The Stable Employee Bonus Scheme (SEBs) is in place for the benefit of stable staff and to recognise their essential contribution to horseracing. The IHRB takes very seriously any failure to implement the SEBs in accordance with rules of the scheme.”

Declan Queally was contacted for comment prior to publication.