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At what age can I start working in Ireland?

Learn more about when you can start working and the hours you can work

Written by Children's Rights Alliance and posted in life

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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children's Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

Once you are over the age of 14 you can legally work in Ireland, but only during specific hours. Visit our Employment section to learn more about your rights when it comes to employment in Ireland. If you are 16 or 17, you can work up to 40 hours a week, but you cannot work more than eight hours each day.

Your rights in employment in Ireland 

When can I start working?

  • You can work part-time from the age of 14.
  • You can work full-time from the age of 16 
  • While you are under 18, there are limits to the amount of time you can work and the type of work you can do

The rules are different if you work in your family’s business or if you work at sea. For more information about working under the age of 18, contact the Citizens Information or the Workplace Relations Customer Services.

How many hours a week can I work?

At age 14 you can work outside the school term but not during it. You can work 35 hours a week during Christmas, Easter and summer school holidays and up to 40 hours a week if you are on approved work experience.

At 15 years of age, you can work eight hours a week during the school term. You can work 35 hours a week during Christmas, Easter and summer school holidays and up to 40 hours a week if you are on approved work experience.

Can I work in the evenings or at night?

If you are 14 or 15, you can only work between 8am and 8pm. You have the right to 14 hours off between shifts and two days off each week. Your two days off should be together where possible.

If you are 16 or 17, you can only work between 6am and 10pm. If you work in a pub or other licensed premises, you can work until 11pm if the next day is not a school day. You have the right to 12 hours off between shifts and two days off each week. Your two days off should be together where possible.

Do I have a right to equal pay?

No, young people are not entitled to equal pay with adults for the work they do.

Under the age of 18 years, you are entitled to at least €6.69 an hour, but your employer can choose to pay you more. Depending on the practice in your workplace, you may be allowed to keep tips, or they may be shared among all staff. There is no law to say that you have the right to keep them or that you have to give them to your employer.

Will I have to pay tax?

Yes, everyone has to pay tax. The amount you pay will depend on the amount you earn.

Does my employer have any responsibilities to me as a young person in work?

Yes, your employer must act within the terms set out in law. Your employer must give you:

  • a summary of your rights under the law
  • details of your terms of employment within one month of you starting the job
  • a payslip

Your employer must see a copy of your birth certificate or other proof of age before they employ you. If you are under 16, your employer must get your parent or guardian’s permission in writing.

Can I claim unemployment payments?

No. You can start paying social insurance from the age of 16, but you cannot claim unemployment payments until you are 18 years of age.

Can I complain if I feel that my employer is not treating me fairly or discriminating against me?

Yes, you can complain confidentially to the Workplace Relations Customer Services. For more information and services available, see the Workplace Relations website.

What age can I volunteer? 

There is no specific age at which you can volunteer, however the types of roles that might be available and the times of volunteering may be different based on your age. For more information see the Volunteer Ireland website.

Find more information and advice on jobs, CVs, apprenticeships in our Employment section.

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.

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Published June 17th2020
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