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Work rights for under 18s

Know your rights when it comes to hours and pay


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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If you work part-time, have a summer job or are already in full-time employment it's important that you know your rights when it comes to hours and pay. It might be great making cash but it's not so hot if you're being treated like a slave, overworked or not getting all the money you should! Get to know your rights and speak out if you think you're not being treated properly. All the stuff you need to know is in the Protection of Young Persons Act 1996 (ROI).

So, what is the Protection of Young Persons Act 1996 all about?

This important act is there to make sure that work carried out during school years doesn't put young people's education at risk. The Act generally applies to employees under 18. It means that employers (the people you work for) should not employ young people under 16 in regular full-time jobs.

When can I work if I'm under 16 years of age?

  • If you are aged 14 or over you can do light work during the summer holidays only (does not include during school term time) for no more that seven hours a day or 35 hours a week, up to 40 hours a week if it's an approved work or an educational experience programme approved by the Minister for Education and Skills, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, or by FÁS/SOLAS.
  • You MUST have at least 21 days off during this time to relax and chill out before school comes round again..
  • If you are over 15 but under 16, you may do eight hours of light work a week during the school year. This should be as part of an approved work or educational experience.
  • If you happen to be a rising teen star in film or advertising, you can get a special licence issued by the Government.

When can I work if I'm over 16 years of age?

Some of the Rights and Obligations under ‘The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 (ROI):

16 and 17 year old workers:

  • Are entitled to a 30-minute break after working for four and a half hours.
  • Cannot legally be asked to work before 6am in the morning or after 10pm at night..
  • Should have two days off every seven days. These days off should be consecutive, i.e. they should be two days off in a row.
  • Cannot legally be asked to work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.

Workers under 16 years old

  • Are entitled to a 30-minute break after four hours working.
  • Cannot be asked to work before 8am or after 8pm.
  • Should have two days off every seven days.
  • Cannot be asked to work more than 35 hours a week, aside from during work experience, where they may work up to 40 hours a week.

All employers of people under 18

  • Should display a poster detailing the rights of young people in the workplace.
  • Must keep a register of each person employed: full name, date of birth, time work begins and finishes each day, wage rates and the total amount of wage paid to each person.

What are the rules if I have more than one part time job?

If you are under 18 and working for more than one employer, your combined daily or weekly hours worked should not exceed the maximum number of hours allowed.

What about wages?

  • The minimum wage for an experienced adult is currently €8.65 an hour. In January 2016, this will increase to €9.15. An experienced adult is an employee who has an employment of any kind in any two years over the age of 18.
  • An employee who is under 18 must be paid at least €6.06 per hour.
  • An employee who is in the first year of employment since the age of 18 is entitled to €6.92 per hour.
  • An employee who is in the second year of employment since the date of first employment over the age of 18 is entitled to €7.79 per hour.

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Published March 6th, 2013
Last updated December 1st, 2016
Tags rights work employment
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

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