Case study: Young people's working hours

Lorraine is aged 14 and she worked 6 hours a day 3 days a week in a supermarket over the summer holidays. However, when she asked the owner for work during the Christmas holidays, the owner said that she had been told she should not be employing anyone under 16 so she cannot give Lorraine work. Is the supermarket owner correct?

The supermarket owner is incorrect in thinking that she cannot employ a person of Lorraine's age. She can employ her to do light work, but only during school holidays. In Ireland the working hours for young people are regulated by the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996. The maximum hours per day are 7, with a maximum working week of 35 hours. Lorraine should receive a 30-minute break after a maximum of 4 hours work. In addition, Lorraine should have had a break of at least 3 weeks from work during the summer holidays. Lorraine should not be asked to work between 8pm and 8am and should receive 2 days' rest in any 7-day period.

Before employing Lorraine, the supermarket owner should see a copy of Lorraine's birth certificate and have the written consent of her parent or guardian. The owner must also keep a record of Lorraine's full name, date of birth, start and finishing times each day, and details of her pay. These records should be retained for at least 3 years after Lorraine ceases to work at the supermarket. Finally, the owner should display a summary of the legislation concerning the employment of children and young people at the premises, and meet the legal requirements regarding written terms of employment.

Page edited: 12 March 2014