Employing under 18 year olds
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Employing under 18 year olds

Published: 09-07-2008

As the summer holidays draw closer, many employers can expect to receive job applications from young people under the age of 18. As an employer, you must ensure that you understand the implications and your legal responsibilities regarding the employment of Children and Young Persons. There are strict regulations governing the meployment of under 18 year olds on the times and number of hours they can work.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Restrictions Under This Legislation?

In general, the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 prohibits the employment of children. There are some exceptions to this general rule:

  • Employment authorised by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in advertising, cultural, artistic and sporting activities.
  • Children may be employed by a close relative in, for example, a family business doing non-industrial work.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 is designed to protect young workers under the age of 18. Employers must give employees under the age of 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.

The Act sets minimum age limits for employment, rest intervals and maximum working hours and prohibits the employment of anyone under 18 on late night work, as outlined below:


Maximum Weekly Working Hours
for Under 16s
14 years 15 year

Term-time Nil 8 hours

Work Experience 40 hours 40 hours

Limit on night and early morning work Under 16s must not be required to work before 8am in the morning or after 8pm at night

Maximum working week and hours Where the maximum week is 35 hours, the maximum day is 7 hours. Where the maxiumum week is 40 hours week, the maximum day is 8 hours. Under 16 year olds must have 21 days free from work during the summer holidays.

Time off and rest breaks for under 16s Half hour rest break after 4 hours work

Daily rest break 14 consecutive hours off

Weekly rest break 2 days off, as far as practicable to be consecutive

EMPLOYING 16 AND 17 YEAR OLDS (Young Persons)

Maximum working day 8 hours

Maximum working week 40 hours (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)

Limit on night and early morning work Before 6am in the morning or after 10pm at night. However, an 16 and 17 year old may be required to work in a licenced premise up until 11pm in such premises on a day which is not immediately preceding a school day, during a school term where the young person is attending school. The young person must not re-commence work before 7am on the following day. Under 18 years olds can work on a licensed premises for General Duties but cannot participate in the sale of alcohol at the bar or in an off-license.


Evidence of Age and Written Permission of Parents

Before employing an under 18 year old, an employer must see a copy of the birth certificate or other evidence of age and, before employing under 16s, an employer must get the written permission of a parent (or guardian).

Record Keeping

An employers must keep records for every employee under 18 that contain the following information:

  • The employee's full name
  • The employee's date of birth
  • The employee's starting and finishing times for work
  • The wage rate and total wages paid to the employee.

The employer must keep these records for at least 3 years at the place of employment.

Payment of wages

While there is a national minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in place in Ireland, however this does not mean that everyone is automatically entitled to receive this. Young people aged under 18 are only guaranteed up to 70% of the national minimum wage which is €6.06 per hour. An employer is, of course, free to pay more than the minimum wage if they wish, but there is no obligation in legislation to do so.

Safety, Health and Welfare At Work

Employers are obliged (under regulations made under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work legislation) to assess any risk to the safety, health and welfare of a child or young person at the place of work and to take any preventive measures necessary should any risk be identified.

Penalties under the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996

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.

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