The prosecutions resulted in fines of €109,800 and pay awards of €41,226 to employees.
Seventy of the 84 cases were taken against firms operating in the catering industry.
The number of inspections carried out by NERA increased by 18pc going from 4,689 in 2012 to 5,546 last year.
NERA’s annual review for 2013 confirmed that the total amount of unpaid wages recovered from inspections totalled €824,052 compared to €855,935 in 2012.
NERA took prosecution cases against 1.5pc of the businesses inspected. A breakdown of the inspection figures show that the Food & Drink sector was the most non-compliant with unpaid wages recovered totalling €252,109.
Officials carried out 417 inspections in the retail and wholesale sector that recouped €133,962 in unpaid wages for workers.
In relation to the construction sector, officials recovered €103,579 in unpaid wages as a result of 138 inspections that showed a compliance rate of 51pc.
The overall compliance rate across the various sectors was 55pc. Almost 9pc of the inspections were jointly undertaken with officials from Revenue, the Department of Social Protection or the gardaí and many of these were unannounced and undertaken outside normal office hours at night and at weekends.
According to Padraig Dooley, NERA’s deputy director: “While detection of non-compliance with employment rights legislation at the initial stage of inspections continues to be a cause for concern, we do work with many employers to achieve compliance and recover unpaid wages for employees.
” As a result, the number of employers prosecuted remains relatively low.”
NERA increased its inspections and prosecutions last year despite budget cuts of 8pc – with the budget going from €6.4m to €5.9m.