Working Age - Children
Sources of Law
A 1994 EU Directive (94/33/EC) provides the basis for our
present law on the employment of young people. The Directive
sought to have a number of key principles involved in the
protection of young people in the work situation placed into the
law of member states. These included recognition that:
* Every employer should guarantee young people working
conditions appropriate to their age.
* Employers should implement measures necessary to protect
the safety and health of young people.
* Member States should protect young people against any
specific risks arising from their lack of experience, absence of
awareness of existing or potential risks, or from their immaturity
* Member States should prohibit the employment of young
people in certain specific situations.
The result in Ireland was the Protection of Young Persons
(Employment) Act 1996, which came into operation on 2nd January 1997. This Act replaced the previous legislation, the
Protection of Young Persons Act 1977.
EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN
"Child" means a person who is under 16 years of age, or the
school leaving age whichever is the higher.
In general the employment of children (that is those under 16
or the school leaving age whichever is the higher) is prohibited.
However there are exceptions, and these are set out below [S.
There are four exceptions to the general rule that children may
not be employed, these are as follows:
* Employment in cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising
activities: The Minister may authorise such employment in
individual cases provided that it will not be harmful to the
child's safety, health or development, nor interfere with the
child's attendance at school. In order to apply for a licence
under this provision, an employer should contact the
Employment Rights Section of the Dept. of Enterprise Trade and Employment for details of the application requirements.
* Employment of children over 14: Outside school term, an
employer may employ a child over 14 to do light work. However
the hours may not exceed 7 in any day or 35 in any week.
During the summer holidays there must be a period of at least
21 days when the child does not work. Finally the work must
not be harmful to the child's safety, health, and development.
Employment is also allowed for this age group in relation to
approved work experience or educational programmes. In such
cases the hours must not exceed 8 in a day or 40 in a week.
* Employment of children over 15: Such children may be
employed during school term in light work, provided that the
hours do not exceed 8 in a week. In addition such a child may
be employed through an approved work experience or training
programme provided the hours do not exceed 8 in a day or 40
in a week. [S. 3(5)]
* Employment by a close relative: The Minister introduced
regulations in 1997 that allow children to be employed by a
close relative in a private dwelling house or farm where they
both live, or in a family business where non-industrial work is
involved. "Close relative" includes parents, grandparents,
brothers and sisters. [S. 9 + SI 2/1997]
Restrictions as to Hours etc.
Where an employer is allowed to employ a child under the
exceptions listed above, the law regulates such employment
by means of rules that, for example, restrict the hours worked,
and require the granting of rest periods. The principle features
of these provisions are as follows:
* Children may not work between 8pm and 8am the following
* Children are to have a minimum of 14 hours consecutive rest
in any 24 hour period. However if the child works no more than
two hours per day or is engaged in activities separated over the
day (e.g. doing morning and evening paper rounds), then the
14 hours rest may be interrupted, provided the child still
receives a total of 14 hours rest in the 24 hour period.
* Children are to receive two days rest in any seven day period,
and these rest days are to be, as far as practicable,
consecutive. However if the child works no more than two
hours per day, or is engaged in activities separated over the
day, then the two days may be interrupted provided the child
gets two days rest in total in any seven day period. The
Minister may, by regulation, reduce the 48 hours to 36 hours
where this would be justified for "technical or organisational
reasons". To date no such regulations have been introduced.
* Children may not work for more than four hours without a
30-minute break, but there is no entitlement to pay for such
breaks [S. 4].
There are certain circumstances where some "employers" do
not have to apply the above rules. These include:
Employment in the Shipping/Fishing Industries
Working for a close relative
Granting of Ministerial Licence
Working in the Defence Forces
Situations of Emergency
Making a Complaint: The Rights Commissioner
For further information on these matters contact:
A parent or guardian of a child or young person may complain
to a Rights Commissioner where it is alleged that there has
been penalisation of a child or young person for opposing an
act outlawed by the legislation. Such a complaint normally
should be made within six months.
Youth Information Centre
Tel. (094) 28674
Tom Johnson House
Telephone: (01) 6609662
Lo-Call: 1890 220 227
Fax: (01) 6685069
Employment Rights Information Unit
Telephone: (01) 631 31 31
Fax: (01) 631 32 67