Work rights for under 18s

Know your rights when it comes to hours and pay

Written by spunout

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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 not if you’re being treated unfairly, overworked or not being fairly paid.

Get to know your rights and speak out if you think you’re not being treated properly. Everything you need to know is in the Protection of Young Persons Act 1996 (ROI).

What is the Protection of Young Persons Act 1996?

The Protection of Young Persons Act 1996 was created 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?

The rules around work depend on what age you are. If you are aged 14 or 15, the following applies to you:

  • You can do light work during the summer holidays only (does not include during school term time)
  • You can work for no more than seven hours a day or 35 hours a week. However, you can work up to 40 hours a week if it’s an approved work or an educational experience programme that is not harmful to your health, safety or development
  • You must have at least 21 days off during this time to relax before school starts again
  • If you are 14 years-old, you cannot work during school time. If you are over 15 years-old, you may do eight hours of light work a week during the school year
  • If you happen to be working in film or advertising, you can get a special licence issued by the Government that allows you to work

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

If you are a 16 or 17 year-old worker, the following applies to you:

  • You are entitled to a 30-minute break after working for four and a half hours
  • You cannot legally be asked to work before 6am in the morning or after 10pm at night
  • You 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

Laws for all employers of people under 18

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.

How much should I be paid?

As of January 1st, 2022, the national minimum wage for people aged 20 and over is €10.50 per hour. However, if you are younger than this, different rates will apply.

An employee who is under 18 must be paid at least €7.35 per hour (70% of minimum wage). An employee aged 18 is entitled to €8.40 per hour (80% of minimum wage). An employee aged 19 is entitled to €9.45 per hour (90% of minimum wage).

Your employer can pay you more than the minimum wage if they want, but they are not required to by law.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

Our work is supported by

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Community-foundation
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