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:
- Statutory instrument 3/1997 Protection of Young Persons (Employment) (Prescribed Abstract) Regulations, 1997
- Statutory instrument 350/2001 Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996 (Employment in Licensed Premises) Regulations 2001
- Statutory instrument 351/2001 Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996 (Bar Apprentices) Regulations 2001
Some important points concerning the employment of young persons:
- 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.
- Young people aged under 18 are only guaranteed up to 70% of the national minimum wage which is €6.06 per hour
- 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
- 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.