Employment Claims Young Persons

The Protection of Young People at Work-6 Complaints to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC)

young people at work

Do you employ young people for the summer, or at weekends and holidays?

Are you a retailer?

I know I did when I was in retailing; in fact, I was delighted to get students in for the summer because they were enthusiastic and flexible, and just wanted to make a few bob for the summer.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996 is an easy one to fall foul of. Here are 6 offences under the Act, all of which can be brought to the Workplace Relations Commission as complaints.

  1. A child has been employed unlawfully

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) act, 1996 provides protection for young people at work. Sections 3(1) and 4(1) are the relevant sections. In this legislation a child is a person under the age of 16 years.

There are particular rules for a child over the age of 14 and over the age of 15, but not yet 16 years.

Learn more about the protection of young persons at work here.

  1. Failure to grant a child rest breaks

Section 4 of The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) act, 1996 provides protection in respect of rest breaks.

  1. The unlawful employment of a young person

A young person, as defined in this act, is a person who has reached the age of 16 but is less than 18 years.

Section 6(1) of The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) act, 1996 is the relevant section of the Act.

  1. The double employment of a child or young person

Section 10 of The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) act, 1996 prevents two employers from allowing a child/young person’s total work hours exceeding their limit.

  1. Proper records are not being kept

Section 15 of The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) act, 1996 obliges the employer to keep records in respect of the employment of children/young persons in order to demonstrate that the act is being complied with.

  1. The employer has not displayed the required piece of the The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) act, 1996 at the workplace.

Section 12 of The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) act, 1996 prescribes a particular piece of the act which must be displayed prominently at the entrance to the workplace.

Part Time Workers Podcast Young Persons

Interns in the Workplace in Ireland-6 Tips for Internships and the Key Issues


You either love them or hate them.

What’s one person’s great opportunity to gain some valuable experience is another’s exploitation of the vulnerable, needy, and naive.

Regardless of your view, this piece will look at the legal aspects of internships.

Well known internships in Ireland include the JobBridge scheme and various FAS initiatives. Both of these internship schemes are specifically excluded from the rigours of employment law in Ireland.

But the internship offered by a private business or company has no such protection. It is this type of internship that I am writing about here.

The first important thing to understand is what an internship is and what is an intern.

Well, there is no statutory definition. And the key point for an employer to consider is whether their “intern” will actually be considered to be an employee with all of the employment law rights that flows from that.

An intern is someone who is engaged in a business or profession to observe and gain experience of a particular role, business, or industry. Many internships are unpaid, many are badly paid, and many may have the payment of “expenses” (eg for travel) to the intern.

The terms and conditions of internships vary widely from business to business but for an employer one of the most important things is whether the intern could be considered to be an employee or not..

Probably the most important factor in establishing whether an intern is an employee or not is whether he/she works or merely observes-work v education as it were.

If he/she works then he/she may well be an employee and be entitled to be paid, holidays, rest breaks, and so forth.

Elsewhere on this site you can read about the tests that are used to indicate whether someone is an employee or not.

But the vital thing to know is that regardless of what the parties say, a Court or tribunal will look at the facts of each individual situation and decide whether it is a contract of service (employee) or contract for services (independent contractor).

The same sort of analysis will be used if there is a dispute with the internship.

The National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 defines a contract of employment very broadly as follows:

contract of employment” means—
(a) a contract of service or apprenticeship, or
(b) any other contract whereby an individual agrees with another person to do or perform personally any work or service for that person or a third person (whether or not the third person is a party to the contract),
whether the contract is express or implied and, if express, whether or not it is in writing;

Accordingly it is clear that even though it has not yet been tested in Ireland, an intern could well successfully claim to be entitled to be paid under this legislation, provided he/she can show that he/she was an employee.

If the intern can show that he/she was an employee, not only will he/she have the right to be paid but he will gain the full protection of various employment law legislation governing holidays, rest breaks, anti discrimination, equality of opportunity etc.


  1. Be fair and transparent in how you take them on. It reflects well on your company and is just the decent thing to do.
  2. Consider having a written agreement, setting out the terms of the internship. This document would set out the parties expectations for the internship, what sort of training and feedback will be given, whether and to what extent there will be mentoring, and so on. Most importantly, this document would state that the intern is not an employee but that the purpose of the internship is for the intern to learn about the company, industry, or specific job/role and that the intern will not be paid. However paying reasonable and necessary expenses of the internship should be considered.
  3. An internship should be short; the longer it is the more likely it is to involve the intern working and being considered, at least in the eyes of the law, an employee.
  4. There should be some thought put into how the intern is to learn and whether he will shadow existing employees in various roles in order to learn..
  5. Even though the intern is not an employee, it is good practice to ensure he has been given a copy of the company’s staff handbook and its most important policies and procedures. Of particular importance here would be health and safety and dignity at work..
  6. If the business/company is going to discharge expenses of the intern eg travel expenses these should be vouched..

Regardless of your views on internships, they can be incredibly useful for the business and the intern.

Following the tips above means that both parties know what the ground rules are and make the engagement more beneficial and meaningful for intern and business/company.

If any of the issues raised above impact you contact us.

Podcast Young Persons

Young Persons in Employment in Ireland-7 Important Facts


The law concerning young workers in employment in Ireland is set out in the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996.

The Act aims to protect the health of young workers and to ensure a young person’s education is not put at risk during the school year.

The Act provides:

  • Rest intervals and working hours limits
  • Minimum age limits for employment
  • Prohibits late night employment for young persons under the age of 18
  • Defines a child as a person under the age of 16 and a young person as someone between the age of 16 and 18
  • The records that employers must keep for young workers (those under the age of 18).

There are additional regulations made under the Act concerning the employment of young persons. The most important ones are:

Some important points concerning the employment of young persons:

  1. Employers must see a copy of the young person’s birth certificate or other evidence of his or her age before employing that person. If the young person is under 16, the employer must get the written permission of the person’s parent or guardian.


  1. Young people aged under 18 are only guaranteed up to 70% of the national minimum wage which is €6.06 per hour


  1. The maximum working week for young people aged 16 and 17 is 40 hours with a maximum of 8 hours a day. If a young person under 18 works for more than one employer, the combined daily or weekly hours of work cannot exceed the maximum number of hours allowed. Young persons are only permitted to work between 6am and 10pm. Any exceptions to this rule must be provided by regulation – see ‘Licensed premises’ statutory instruments above


  1. Employers cannot employ children aged under 16 in regular full-time jobs. Children aged 14 and 15 may be employed as follows:

-Doing light work during the school holidays – they must have at least 21 days off work during this time

-As part of an approved work experience or educational programme where the work is not harmful to their health, safety or development

5.  Children aged 15 may do 8 hours a week light work in school term time. The maximum working week for children outside school term time is 35 hours or up to 40 hours if they are on approved work experience.

6. Employers must give employees aged under 18 years a copy of the official summary of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, along with other details of their terms of employment within one month of taking up a job. Employers with employees under 18 must also display the official summary of the Act at a place in their workplace where it can be easily read.

7. Employers found guilty of an offence under the Act are liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €1,904.61. Continuing breaches of the Act can attract a fine of up to €317.43 a day.